Many business owners feel unprepared for the prospect of commercial litigation. A business lawsuit occurs over several stages, but you may be wondering: “What is the first step in a business lawsuit?” We help you understand the beginning stages of business litigation so you are better prepared.

At the Saxton Law Firm, our Kansas City, MO business law attorneys have what it takes to protect you and your business. We help you mitigate risks, defend against lawsuits, and hold other parties responsible for their obligations.

Steps Before a Business Lawsuit Begins

Before we address the start of actual litigation, we should quickly cover the steps that happen before a lawsuit even begins. With the help of an experienced business litigator, you can often avoid the need for a lawsuit or reduce liability moving forward. 

These steps often include, but are not limited to:

  • Preparing a demand letter to notify the other party of a breach
  • Negotiating a potential resolution of the issue before filing a claim
  • Preparing evidence in anticipation of litigation
  • Participating in mediation or arbitration before litigation

These steps may help prevent litigation, or they might not. Your business litigation attorney is ready to help you respond in either case.

Filing a Business Lawsuit

The first official stage of any business lawsuit is the filing of a complaint. A complaint is a legal pleading that begins the commercial litigation. This document is filed with the appropriate court and sets forth the basic details of the allegations. A complaint does not necessarily include every detail, but puts the opposing party on notice of the allegations against it.

A complaint will typically include information such as the following:

  • Plaintiff Identification: The plaintiff is the party filing the lawsuit. The complaint will identify that party and details about it.
  • Defendant Identification: The complaint will identify the defendant or defendants in the case that face a lawsuit.
  • Jurisdictional Information: A complaint may set forth the jurisdictional basis for why it was filed with a particular court. This is especially important if your attorney believes the case should be filed in federal court.
  • Causes of Action: The complaint will state the plaintiff’s allegations against the defendant, called causes of action. The complaint usually sets forth basic facts related to the cause of action to put the defendant on notice of why they are being sued.
  • Remedies Sought: The complaint will also set forth the remedies the plaintiff seeks. This often includes a general request for monetary damages, or may seek a specific dollar amount. It may also seek injunctive and other equitable relief as appropriate.
  • Service Information: A complaint must be properly served on each defendant to initiate the legal proceedings.

If you need to file a lawsuit, always do so with the help of a knowledgeable commercial litigator. These cases are complex and a missed step could mean you lose your opportunity for compensation.

Answering a Complaint Against Your Company

If you had a lawsuit filed against your business, the first stage for you is different. Instead of filing a complaint, you will file an answer to that complaint. An answer is your company’s first formal answer to the complaint. It admits or denies the allegations set forth in the complaint. Your answer may also include a counterclaim or crossclaim if you want to file your own allegations against another party in the same case.

Filing an appropriate answer is essential to protecting your business. Failure to file within the appropriate timeframe could result in a default judgment, in which you are held responsible for the allegations listed in the complaint because you failed to answer. By working with a skilled business litigation attorney, you can avoid this potentially devastating consequence.

READ MORE: What Does a Small Business Attorney Do?

Our skilled small business attorneys are prepared to help you with the first stage and beyond in any business lawsuit. Let our experienced team work to protect your business and your legal rights. Contact Saxton Law Firm for a FREE case review!