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As consumers, we place a lot of trust in the companies we give our business to. Our hope is that they will never abuse our trust or take advantage of us. We expect to be treated fairly and professionally. We assume we will be safe from bodily harm when using a company’s products or when visiting their place of business. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this will always be the case. Many things could go wrong while doing business with a company, and some could lead to a lawsuit. Here are just a few examples of incidents that may merit legal action taken against a company on the part of a consumer:

  • Sustaining an injury while visiting a company’s property

    • either due to the company’s failure to maintain proper safety standards, or

    • due to negligence on the part of a company employee  

  • Injury or harm sustained as a result of a defective product

  • Malpractice or professional negligence

  • Discrimination and/or harassment

  • If a company representative has cause to visit a client’s house and damage their property

  • False or misleading claims about a product’s capabilities, effectiveness, or safety

    • potentially leading to a class-action lawsuit 

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against a Company?

The statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit will differ from state to state and according to the nature of the complaint. For example, the statute of limitations for injuries is at least one year in every state but may go up to as many as six years. You may have more or less time to file a claim for malpractice or professional negligence, depending on state laws. The clock for the statute of limitations typically begins on the date an injury or grievance occurred or the date that it was discovered, or in some cases, on the date that it would have been discovered through legitimate efforts. 

Different rules may apply if the action is against a government entity, and the timeline for filing a claim will likely be much shorter. If a person dies due to injuries incurred while on the property of a business, and their death takes place more than a year after the incident took place, the statute of limitations related to filing a lawsuit for their death would likely be extended. How long it would be extended would again vary from state to state. 

How To Start a Lawsuit Against a Company

You may ask, “How do I file a personal injury lawsuit or any other kind of lawsuit against a company?” It may seem like the question of how to sue a company has a straightforward answer, but many steps will need to be taken, including determining if you even have a valid case. Keep in mind that the size and stature of the company you wish to sue may also have an impact on the validity of your case. Many larger corporations have arbitration clauses worked into their contracts that make it very difficult for consumers to litigate against them, especially in class action lawsuits. A qualified litigation attorney can help you know where to begin and how to proceed. Below are some of the steps you’ll need to follow, with or without a lawyer. 

Gather Evidence

Start to form an outline of what exactly happened. Begin by gathering all related evidence. Write down everything you remember about the circumstances that led you to this point. Were there witnesses? If so, you’ll want them to submit written testimonies of what they saw. These are called affidavits. Do you have video, photographic, or written documentation of the event(s)? When and where did the inciting incident occur? Who else was present? Were there any discussions about the incident between you and any of the company’s staff? Have you already tried to resolve the matter directly with the company? When collecting appropriate evidence to back up your claims against the business you intend to sue, these are questions you should consider. If you received any medical care as a result of the incident, you’d also want to gather appropriate documentation from your doctor(s) and the insurance company. 

Speak With a Lawyer

Once you’ve collected all of the evidence related to your claim, consult a lawyer to ensure you have a viable case. Even if you decide not to use an attorney throughout the lawsuit, they can at least put you at ease about whether or not you should be moving forward with your case. After your initial consultation, if you decide to move forward with an attorney, they’ll help you file complicated and tedious paperwork with the court. They’ll also be well-versed in the laws surrounding the statute of limitations for your case and will work to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken within the appropriate time frame. Make sure you know what to expect upfront when it comes to your lawyer’s fee structure. Some lawyers will work on contingency. Others will expect a flat rate. You may also be expected to pay a retainer fee.  

Send Your Written Demand

In many states, you must send a written demand letter to whomever you intend to sue. The letter is intended to make them aware of the impending lawsuit. When writing it, outline the nature of your complaint. Explain what injuries you’ve incurred at the hands of the defendant. (Any injury referred to in this letter may be physical, mental, emotional, or financial.) State what your demands are and/or how much you are willing to settle for in the event that the company is ready to settle out of court. Provide your full contact information. The letter should be mailed via certified mail, with a return receipt requested. Before you send it, make sure to make a copy for your records. Your attorney will likely help you with all of this. 

File Court Paperwork and Serve the Defendant

If you are working with a lawyer, they will know how to proceed when it comes to actually filing your claim with the court. They’ll direct you in regard to which jurisdiction your case falls under. Is this a state or federal matter? Does it belong in small claims court? Your lawyer will guide you through all of this. They will ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed with the appropriate court clerk and see to it that any related filing fees are accounted for. Once your claim has been officially filed with the court, the complaint, along with a court summons, should be served to the defendant. 

Try to Reach an Out-of-Court Settlement

After the company has received your complaint and summons, they will follow up with their response. They may deny all allegations. They may even elect to counter-sue. In either of these situations, you would then work with your lawyer to prepare for the impending court trial. In many cases, the company you are suing will be willing to work with you and a mediator to reach a settlement outside of court that feels agreeable to all parties involved. Lawsuits tend to be time-consuming and expensive. For public companies, the negative press that often surrounds them is also unappealing. As such, settling out of court may be your quickest and least costly path to receiving justice and the most desirable (least noisy) path for the company. If you mutually agree to settle, lawyers, mediators and/or arbitrators from each side will work together to reach an appropriate agreement. Once a settlement has been reached, it serves as a legally binding contract between both parties and is enforceable by law. 

How Long Does a Company Lawsuit Take?

Unfortunately, there is no set timeline when it comes to lawsuits, nor is there any guarantee that a settlement will be reached quickly. Every lawsuit has its own unique set of circumstances and may take months or even years to be resolved, depending on the severity of the charges. Typically, it will require a minimum of one year.

Will My Company Lawsuit Go to Court?

The answer to this question depends on multiple factors, such as:

  • How severe are the charges?

  • What was the defendant’s response to the claim/summons?

  • Are both parties open to mediation and settlement?

While the exact percentage is debatable, recent statistics suggest that the vast majority of lawsuits, perhaps up to 95%, settle outside of court before going to trial. 

How To Find a Litigation Attorney

If you feel you’ve been wronged by a business, whether large or small, and you are ready to consider taking legal action, don’t do it alone. Let one of the dependable and well-qualified litigation attorneys at help guide you through the process. Their experience and expertise will save you time in evaluating the merits of your case and filing paperwork with the court. They will give you peace of mind when it comes to knowing that you are doing everything possible to seek justice. 

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