If you own your own business, even a work at home business, you probably should carry some legal insurance beyond what your existing business, auto and homeowner or renter policies encompass. Your coverage on these policies may or may not cover legal services required for such situations as false arrest, libel, slander, or invasion of privacy.
The increasing complexities of the legal system trigger the escalation in the costs of lawsuits. This can be exceedingly expensive to a small business proprietor, especially if you have a home based business. You simply can’t afford to hope that you will never be mixed up in a costly legal proceeding.
Hiring an attorney to defend some claims against you or your business may destroy a small business. With money so tight these days, what small business owner can find the money to pay a minimum of $200 per hour for a lawyer who specializes in business law? Unless you are running a million dollar business, this type of assistance is far too expensive for most people.
A couple of options are available to you.
First, talk with with your insurance agent to find out what additional policies or riders you can obtain that may cover legal costs for standard legal actions arising from the usual course of business. You might be able to get an umbrella plan that will expand both the dollar limits of your current coverage as well as increase the number of situations covered. An umbrella plan can be an inexpensive answer to your legal exposure.
A second choice is a prepaid legal plan that protects you, your family, and your business. Typically, for a fixed monthly or annual price your will obtain a collection of legal services that are tailored to the requirements of a small business.
One widely used and helpful feature of a prepaid legal plan is your option to have phone conversations with your attorney. You can talk about potential issues with your attorney and obtain his or her legal advice before you do something that could produce a lawsuit. This is a positive aspect of most plans and can help you avoid lawsuits, saving you a lot of time, expense, and worry.
Many prepaid legal plans also include your attorney’s time for reviewing usual documents and contracts. Without a legal plan you might not consider having contracts reviewed. But, your attorney can suggest ways to improve the contract language and notify you of possible issues. This also can rescue you from lots of headaches.
Prepaid legal plans will also cover your attorney’s time for preparing for and conducting a trial, should a legal situation require a trial. Frequently your plan details the particular types of legal situations that are covered for trail related expenses.
Typical of any legal agreement, you need to read over any prepaid legal plan cautiously to note precisely what services are included as well as their limits. You don’t want to think you have broad coverage when your coverage is extremely limited.
Most plans also provide discounts for services not specifically made available by the plan.
You also should be concerned about the options you will be given for your attorney or law firm. After all, legal specialization and experience play a critical part in your legal status,. Scrutinize the options and ask each potential firm for references from prior clients. If you know other small business owners who have utilized a particular plan, talk about their experiences with them to see their evaluation of the law firm they are working with.
You ought to also check with your state’s Bar Association and the Better Business Bureau to find the background of the attorneys and determine if there are some complaints, including fee disputes, against the firms. Find out about such items as your potential attorney’s educational background, professional track record, and length of time practicing in his or her specialty.
Also, find out about how disputes with your legal plan provider are handled. Determine if they deal with disputes internally or submit them to an objective third party for resolution. This might have a major influence on your relationship with your plan provider.
By and large, as a small business owner, you should consider the risk of legal proceedings against you and make preparations to handle those situations. You will rest easier and perhaps avoid some pretty big expenses in the process.