How do you sue a company? There are a lot of great companies out there. But there are many corporations that are just awful and should be sued. This page is about how to sue a company to remedy an injustice.
Navigating the legal pathway to sue a company might seem challenging, but it’s essential to know that you, as a consumer or an employee, have the power to hold companies accountable for their actions. The bottom line is that companies owe a duty of care to their customers, employees, and the public. When they fail in this responsibility, and it leads to an injury, it’s within your rights to seek justice. There are myriad reasons why you might sue a business, such as sustaining an injury from a slip and fall on their property, suffering from food poisoning due to contaminated food, or experiencing harassment or wrongful termination as an employee. If you’re considering filing a lawsuit against a company, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to proceed and increase your odds of success.
Understanding Your Case
First and foremost, you need to assess if you have a viable case. Not every injustice has a legal remedy. Your complaint against the business must be specific, demonstrating that the company had a duty to protect you and that a breach of this duty directly led to your injury. This could be in the form of neglecting to carry out regular inspections, failing to mitigate hazards, or not providing appropriate warning signs.
Types of Lawsuits Against Companies
Personal injury claims are one of the most common lawsuits against companies, but others include product liability, professional malpractice, premises liability, breach of contract, discrimination or harassment, defamation, false advertising, and tax fraud.
Those are the most common. But the list gets longer. Intellectual property lawsuits can occur if a company is accused of infringing on another’s patent, trademark, or copyright. This can involve using another company’s proprietary technology without permission or creating a logo that’s too similar to another company’s trademarked logo. Shareholder lawsuits can also be filed against a company. These often involve allegations of securities fraud, where a company is accused of making false statements or omitting important information that misleads investors. Shareholders can also sue a company for breaching its fiduciary duty, which is the legal obligation of a company’s management to act in the best interests of the shareholders.
Consumer protection lawsuits involve claims that a company violated laws designed to protect consumers. This can include false advertising, violation of privacy rights, or other deceptive business practices. Environmental lawsuits can be brought against companies that violate environmental laws and regulations. These can result from issues such as pollution, improper disposal of waste, or harm to protected wildlife.
Regardless of the claim, the company’s size, type, or the industry it operates in, be it for-profit, non-profit, or a government agency, if negligence or misconduct occurs, you can hold them accountable by suing them. These claims are not mutually exclusive. Companies often face more than one type of lawsuit at a time, and the consequences can be severe, including financial penalties, damaged reputation, and in some cases, being required to change business practices.
Filing Your Lawsuit Against a Company
In many ways, filing a lawsuit against a company is just like filing a lawsuit against a person. When you sue a business, however, there are additional steps you need to take to ensure that you get everything right procedurally. If you don’t follow these steps for filing a lawsuit against a company your case could easily get dismissed on procedural grounds forcing you to start all over again.
Step 1: Find Out Whether the Company is Incorporated
If you want to file a lawsuit against a company or business, you first need to figure out whether that company is incorporated. If a company is incorporated that meanst that the company is a either a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or partnership that has been formally created and registered with the state. This gives the company separate legal existence and, thefore, standing to be named as a party in legal proceedings.
Most big companies are corporations. Medium or smaller companies are typically incorporated as LLCs. However, some small companies are not incorporated at all. Non-incorporated companies are operated as “sole-proprietorships.” Sole-properitorships do not have a separate legal existence. They are actually just a person “doing business as” a company. So the defendant would be “John Doe d/b/a Acme Plumbing Co.” For corporations and LLCs the defendant would be the corporate name.
Most companies that are incorporated have a suffix such as “Inc.” or “LLC”” attached to their name that identifies their corporate status. To confirm that corporate status you will need to look the company up on the list of registered corporate entities for your state. All states have an online datebase to search. In Maryland, you can search the SDAT Business Entity database.
Step 2: Look Up the Registered Agent for the Company
If the company that you want to sue is incorporated, your next step will be to identify the registered agent for that company in your state. All corporations or LLCs must have an individual or company named as their “resident agent.” The registered agent is authorized to receive legal notices (including lawsuits) on behalf of the company. To sue a company you will need to serve the lawsuit on the company’s registered agent. The registered agent can be identified by searching your state’s list of registered corporations.
Step 3: File the Lawuist and Serve the Company
The third and final step in filing a lawsuit against a company is to file the civil complaint in the appropriate court. The complaint must properly name and identify the company (by its formal corporate name) and its adress and the name and adress of its registered agent. After the the complaint is filed, the clerk’s office will assign a case number and then issue a summons stamped by the court. The summons will be sent back to the plaintiff and then it must be “served” on the company. Service on a company can be done by hand delivery of the complaint and summons to the registered agent for the company.
Your attorney will guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit, which includes serving the company with notice, gathering evidence, responding to motions, and subpoenaing witnesses. They will also clarify any associated fees. If successful, you might be awarded both economic and non-economic damages, and the company could be ordered to modify its policies or procedures.
Tips for Suing a Company
When you file a lawsuit against a company you need to be prepared for the company to actively defend the claims. Most companies will hire attorneys to defend them (or have insurance that will hire defense counsel). Below are some tips and strategies to help prepare you for filing a lawsuit against a company.
Medical Attention and Documentation
Regardless of how minor your injury might appear, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. This not only ensures your well-being but also provides documented proof of the injury. Keep detailed records of diagnoses, prescriptions, medical bills, and all communication with healthcare providers and insurance companies to substantiate your claim.
Collect and organize every possible piece of information related to your injury. This includes gathering witness information, recording detailed accounts of the incident, and maintaining a timeline of events. This data will provide your attorney with a solid foundation to build your case and negotiate with insurance companies.
Dealing with Corporate Tactics
Companies will often go to great measures to fend off claims. They often employ various strategies to deter lawsuits, including intimidation or delaying tactics. An experienced attorney can navigate these maneuvers and ensure your rights are upheld. But if you do not have a lawyer, you have to stay in there and battle yourself. Keep in mind that no matter what you are told, companies owe a duty of care to their customers, employees, and the public. When they fail in this responsibility, and it leads to an injury, it’s within your rights to seek justice.
What kind of tactics will you see? One common approach is to challenge the legal basis of the claim. Many companies act like they cannot be legally sued – no matter what the claim is. The company might argue that the plaintiff’s complaint doesn’t meet the required elements of the legal statute under which it was filed, or that the plaintiff lacks the legal standing to sue. This approach focuses on using legal technicalities to argue that the claim should be dismissed before it reaches a full hearing.
Another common strategy companies employ is to challenge the jurisdiction or venue of the lawsuit. In other words, they might argue that the court in which the suit was filed does not have the legal authority to adjudicate the issue, or that the case should be heard in a different venue, potentially one more favorable to the company.
Using delay tactics is another strategy often used by companies. They want to hang on to their money and they hope as time passes you will just go away. This continues when you get to litigation, too. The company might file a large number of motions, requests, or other legal paperwork to draw out the legal process. This can serve to increase the plaintiff’s costs and put pressure on them to drop the case or agree to a smaller settlement.
Try Settlement First
Before proceeding to legal action, it’s often beneficial to approach the company with your complaint. Companies usually prefer to resolve issues before facing litigation, and this could result in a quicker, mutually agreeable resolution. However, if the company fails to address your concerns, continue with your information collection and be prepared to escalate the matter.