The Most Common Reasons Why Businesses Get Sued
No company wants to get sued. Not only are lawsuits expensive, but they can also damage your reputation if word leaks out. A lawsuit could be filed by a customer, by a supplier or by an employee. There are many different reasons as to why any of these parties may decide to sue you. Below are just some of the most common reasons why businesses get sued.
Accidents and injuries
Many lawsuits are due to accidents and injuries. This could include a patient suing a hospital for botched surgery, a customer suing a grocery store for slipping on a wet floor or an employee suing a company for hearing loss as a result of workplace noise exposure.
It is the duty of a company to put in place safety measures to avoid accidents and injuries. There are many workplace injury prevention measures that you can take to protect employees such as supplying safety equipment and training employees to carry out tasks in certain ways. Signage and barriers can meanwhile be used to protect customers from various injury risks.
Discrimination is any act of unfair treatment based solely on a person’s race, gender, sexuality, age, religion or disability. The discrimination could be towards a customer. However, in most cases it is against employees.
You can prevent being sued for discrimination by exercising equal rights wherever possible and by training your staff to do the same. There can be complex situations where it may benefit to seek legal advice such as when an employee wants to wear an item for religious reasons but it is a health and safety risk, however most situations should be fairly clear-cut.
You could get sued for underpaying an employee or a supplier, especially if it involves a breach of contract or possibly breaking employment laws.
Make sure to pay suppliers and employees fairly. Understanding the laws when it comes to things like overtime, employee benefits and redundancy is important too.
You cannot fire an employee unless you have good reason to. In many cases, notice must be given unless it is an act of gross misconduct. Failing to do this could result in you getting sued.
It can often be worth seeking legal advice before dismissing an employee – especially a difficult employee who you have had conflict with in the past. Make sure that conditions for terminating employment are included in your contract.
Copyright and trademark infringement
Using someone’s intellectual property without their permission could get you sued. This includes images, designs, logos, names, artistic works and literary works.
Always consider who is the owner of an image or a piece of music before using it for commercial purposes and seek approval from the creator. When it comes to your branding, be careful of using logos, slogans or brand names that are similar to other companies – especially companies that have a trademark in place. It could be worth trademarking your own logo and brand name just in case someone else tries to steal it.