How to Get Sued

No matter how great you think your clients are if you are in business you can get sued.  Unfortunately, anyone can file suit for almost anything and you'll have to defend yourself.  Whether you're at fault or not.  This is the scary reality of running a business. But, the good news is the likelihood of facing a client or vendor in court is probably pretty minimal.  It is important to have good communications with your vendors and clients and it is important to protect your business and yourself.

Here are 5 ways to get sued:

  1. Work without a contract.  If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: Never, never, never do ANY work without a contract.  I don't care if this is your elderly next door neighbor who knits tea cozies.  I don't care if you are just doing a 5-hour powder room update.  Never, never, never do ANY work without a contract.  This is the number one way to protect yourself.
  2. Think that you won't ever get sued.  The best clients can become nightmares overnight when things don't go their way or they don't get what they want.  If you don't have a healthy fear of the possibility of getting sued you may be more reckless.  So keep the idea that it is a possibility in your head and protect yourself.
  3. Don't listen to your clients.  Communication can make or break a project.  If you are having a difficult time getting feedback and responses from your clients this may be a red flag.  On the other hand, if your clients are saying something and you're pushing them or ignoring what they're saying, this could be trouble.  Read this article on expectations.
  4. Don't get explicit approval. A client may verbally approve a fabric selection or even pay for it, but without that explicit signature on a proposal, you could be exposing yourself if a client decides when the sofa arrives that they hate the fabric and want you to pay.
  5. Skip insurance.  Insurance companies want to keep their money, so you pay them a little a year and if something comes up they investigate and work on a settlement with the other party.  This means that you have someone in your corner that can help stop the complaint from turning into a lawsuit.  (Look for the post on types of insurance coming up this month.)