Litigation may ensue for a variety of reasons. They may include a breach of agreement (written or verbal), a violation of rights, economic damages, or numerous other items where the parties fail to reach an amicable solution regarding a dispute. When an impasse is reached, the plaintiff (the party seeking a resolution) may decide use the legal system to obtain results. While waging a legal fight might be the best means to seek the desired outcome, the process is complicated and sometimes lengthy. In most cases, a favorable outcome will require the skill, knowledge, and experience of a trial attorney. Not all attorneys do trial work.
Although an individual may choose to represent himself or herself in a trial, the same is not true of a corporation. Companies are considered separate entities (apart from their partners or shareholders). As such, an individual cannot legally represent their company (even as the only shareholder). To represent any entity other than oneself requires an attorney licensed in the state where the case is to be tried.
For most people (even businesses), being sued is not a common event and therefore experiencing concern or fear is natural. However, there is no need to panic. For starters, the defendant has 20 days to respond to suit. This means there is adequate time to find a competent, knowledgeable, and experienced attorney (it is wise to hire one you like as well). However, do not wait until the last minute to hire an attorney – try to hire one within the first 10 days. The attorney will file the appropriate responses, which means the 20 days will become indefinite as the case moves forward. Regardless of the outcome, most cases take months and sometimes longer to resolve.
The act of being sued does not mean you are in the wrong. In many instances, the defendant has affirmative defenses, which may negate the basis of the suit. A skilled and experienced litigation attorney has many tools to employ that may resolve the suit without ever reaching the courtroom. In addition to having affirmative defenses, there may be grounds to launch a counterclaim – the defendant suing the plaintiff. An alternative resolution might be a negotiated settlement. Your attorney will help guide you through the process to advise you of your options while providing legal counsel.