"One of the area's most respected and sought-after legal minds"
and "One of Washington's best - most honest
and effective - lawyers who sue."
Each week or so I will provide, in order, the content from my manual entitled Don’t Get Sued! A Guide to Help Reduce Your Business’s Exposure to Lawsuits. The book was originally published in January 2008 and has become a staple for businesses around the country. Now, regular visitors to our firm’s website can read the book at no charge. The entire text can be purchased at Amazon.com. This week, we start with the Introduction, which reads as follows:
To the best of my knowledge, this booklet is the first ever written by a seasoned plaintiff’s personal injury attorney, for the benefit of business owners. I have represented thousands of people injured due to someone else’s negligence and I’ve had a lot of success. Many of the cases included claims against businesses, both large and small. My goal is to explain to the reader what is involved in a successful plaintiff’s case against a business, so the business owner can learn what mistakes to avoid, the pitfalls if you will, and also learn what steps may be taken to help reduce the business’s exposure to legitimate lawsuits. Remember, however, that anyone can sue anyone even if all of the elements of a successful outcome aren’t present. But, if those elements aren’t present, and hopefully after reading this booklet you will be able to reduce those elements, it is less likely that any knowledgeable plaintiff’s attorney would take the case. That doesn’t mean that a frivolous lawsuit can’t be filed against your business (remember the case filed in the District of Columbia against owners of a dry cleaner?), but there are remedies for that too, which I will discuss later (see chapter 10). And I obviously, without visiting your business in person, cannot promise that every conceivable risk to your specific business can be addressed in this booklet. But I can promise that if you read this booklet carefully, and act accordingly to the information presented, the likelihood of a successful claim against your business, will be greatly reduced.
By far, the two most common claims against businesses are for (a) negligence (covered in Chapters 1 through 8 ) and (b) breach of warranty and sales related issues (Chapter 9). Lets start with negligence cases, which is my field. Negligence cases are based upon the notion that when a person engages in an activity, that person has an obligation to perform the activity as a reasonably prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances (duty), and if there is a failure (breach) to do that, and a foreseeable plaintiff (almost everyone is foreseeable) is injured (damages) as a direct result (causation) of that failure, then all four elements needed to prove a prima facie negligence case exist.
The negligence concept not only applies to individuals, but also to businesses. By businesses, I really mean the owner, who is responsible for the negligent actions of his or her employees, agents, etc. and is responsible to his or her business invitees (includes customers, employees, people making deliveries, etc.). Different reasons that businesses are most typically sued for negligence, and some ways to avoid those lawsuits, will be covered.
Breach of warranty actions for businesses typically deal with the seller’s obligation of tender and delivery and buyer’s right to inspect. Warranty issues most often deal with promises, both implied and express, that a product or service will be satisfactory. These types of claims against businesses are covered in Chapter 9, as well as disclaimers which may be available to the seller.
When reading this booklet, please keep in mind that the law I’m applying, may or may not be the law where your business is located. It is imperative that you direct any questions regarding the applicability of the law as referenced in this guide, to a qualified attorney admitted to the bar in the state where your business is located. My suggestions should not be construed as legal advice.
Finally, the suggestions that I offer are based on the assumption that your business has been set up appropriately; whether it is a corporation, a litimited liability partnership, or any other type of entity. This is critical in helping to avoid personal liability. The suggestions in this book are designed to help reduce liability for your business, not necessarily you individually.
Please check back shortly to read Chapter 1, which deals with premises liability.
Don’t Get Sued by Roger Gelb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at www.gelbandgelb.com.