Protecting Yourself from Lawsuits
Some people say if you are going to be in business, you are going to be sued. This is not always true, but some factors increase your risk. Below are examples of the different aspects exemplifying that your desire to protect yourself from lawsuits is one hundred percent reasonable and an intelligently founded consideration.
1. Do you deal with employment (as in own a business)? The chances of being sued are increasing with the average judgment in 2004 being $388,000 (as reported by the EOC), the average legal fee being $250,000 and the average plaintiff have a 75% chance of winning.
2. Do you advertise, use a logo or a trademark, registered or unregistered? A cosmetics company is suing DreamWorks and Paramount over "Bee Movie" claiming they had already trademarked the marketing slogan "Give Bees A Chance" used in the movie's advertising.
3. In President Bush's State of the Union address on January 30, 2006 , the President said he wanted to cut down on “defensive medicine” – which is the practice of doctors ordering excessive medical tests to minimize the chance of being sued later for malpractice. Most physicians will claim that it is not slowing down.4. CCN - Matthews - Dec. 28, 2006 – Interview with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) - If it's your party, it's your liability. So, how can you reduce your risks of an ugly incident like an impaired driving fatality? No single measure will eliminate all the risks. However, with some planning, common sense and basic precautions, you can dramatically reduce your chances of being sued. DON”T SERVE ALCOHOL!
5. McDonald's Being Sued Over Gluten In Fries (2006) - The world famous fast food giant, McDonalds, is being sued in the United States after it was discovered that it uses gluten in its fries. A lawyer for the person filing the lawsuit against the burger chain stated that McDonalds also failed to provide warnings to indicate that the French fries contained gluten, thus putting those with an allergy to gluten at risk.
The Solution to Prevention –
There are several solutions to prevention. One of them is NOT just to be a conscientious employee or employer. You cannot control others and many suits are not based on reason, they are based on the “deep pockets.” You can be conscientious, professional, trained and do everything in what appears to be a sufficient standard of duty and care.
The examples above exemplify that you may not be able to prevent a lawsuit.
Employment – There is no way you can control every action of every employee. It is the nature of an employee to expect “gain” for their services and herein lies the dilemma. How much? What is fair? Fair is what a lawsuit is all about.
Victim of Consequence – DreamWorks and Paramount have all of the ability and capability to perform the necessary due diligence on a trademark, logo or saying yet they have made either an innocent mistake or just figured that it did not matter since they had the deep pockets. Many big companies know they can exhaust the legal fees of smaller less lucrative companies.
Politics – Politics have affects, good and bad. Long term plans such as Asset Protection Plans with Trusts help diminish the affects of societies swings and increase stability of finances for the investor.
Accidents – Accidents may be totally unforeseen or we may put ourselves at risk. No matter how conscientious we are, others are out of our control. Many people feel the need or obligation to serve alcohol at their party. Of course alcohol increases the risk and the liability, even if it is controlled.
Awareness – As prepared as we may be (surely MacDonald's has good enough legal council) preparation money and professionalism does not always save us or out companies from harm. MacDonald's can obviously withstand a suit like this, but can the average company? Legal fees, time spent arguing away from business and reputation damage are very draining on the average company.
The Prevention –
The only way to protect yourself from a lawsuit is to expect one. This means that protection is done well in advance and completed to defeat the worse case scenario.
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