How to Protect Your Business from Personal Injury Lawsuits

injury, Wheaton business lawyersIf you own a business, there is a good chance that your employees, suppliers, vendors, and, obviously, your customers will regularly on your property. You will, undoubtedly, work hard to protect the well-being of each person who visits your business and to give them a safe and comfortable experience at your place of business.

Unfortunately, however, accidents do happen from time to time, and when they occur, people are sometimes injured. Believe it or not, injury-causing accidents can even occur on your property, leaving you potentially open to a personal injury claim. The good news is that there are several things that you can do to limit your possible liability if someone is even injured while visiting or working at your company.

Proactive Measures

The best way to limit your personal injury liability, of course, is to prevent accidents from happening as much as possible. This means that you need to have preventive measures in place against potential injuries instead of reacting to accidents when they occur. Such preventive measures generally include comprehensive safety policies, procedures, and protocols throughout your business.

You should also identify possible areas of concern, such as doorways with mats on the floor that could become a tripping hazard. Similarly, understand and anticipate weather-related issues, such as accumulations of snow and ice and damage caused to your parking lots and walkways by exposure to the elements.

Necessary but dangerous maintenance activities should be conducted outside of your peak customer hours, for sure, and outside of business hours completely if possible. Making repairs, mopping floors, and replacing light bulbs in the ceiling, for example, can most likely be done before you open or after you close for the day.

Constant Vigilance

Having a plan is great, but you need to implement it and make it part of your business culture. If safety is a common topic that is addressed through regular communication, training sessions, and meetings, it will never be far from your team’s minds. Be open to safety ideas from every single member of your staff. If an idea will reduce the chance of an accident, it should not matter who came up with it—get it implemented as soon as you can.

Your safety policies should be clearly written out in your employee handbook, which should define the responsibilities of each person in your company for preventing injury-causing accidents. You might also consider including safety violations in your company’s disciplinary policy, as well as offering incentives for meeting safety-related goals. While you might not be able to stop every accident, actions such as these can demonstrate that you are not negligent in regard to safety.

Adequate Insurance

If you have employees, you must have workers’ compensation insurance to cover them in the event of a work-related injury. However, there is no state or federal requirement for your company to have commercial liability insurance. Without liability insurance, a single accident could potentially bankrupt you and your company. Before you speak to an insurance broker, talk to a qualified attorney. A broker is going to try to sell you policies based on the commission that he or she will receive, while your lawyer will objectively help you determine your potential risks and the amount of liability protection you need. Then you can find the liability policy or policies that offer the desired level of security.

Call a Wheaton Business Law Attorney

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC, our experienced DuPage County business lawyers can help you protect yourself and your company in the event of an injury-causing accident. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.

 

Source:

https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/iwcc/resources/Pages/faq.aspx

Avoiding the Most Common Business Partnership Killers

Illinois small business lawyersSavvy entrepreneurs often pool their skills and resources to increase the chances of success. Unfortunately, when a partnership is formed under the wrong conditions, this pathway to success can quickly become a business owner’s worst nightmare. Learn how you can avoid the most common business partnership killers in the following sections, and discover how a seasoned business law attorney can help you proactively mitigate the possibility of a failed partnership.

Partnerships Born from a Lack of Money or Skill

In an ideal partnership, business owners have “synergy,” or a way that they complement one another. As an example, one partner might have the marketing tools and resources that the company needs to be successful while the other has a knack for thinking “outside the box.” Unfortunately, if one partner “needs” another in order to achieve success – perhaps one person has the idea and marketing skills while the other possesses the capital to start the business – any potential benefit of a partnership may be lost. To avoid this issue, partners are encouraged to share expenses, not capital. Also, you should never give away something that is yours (i.e. information, ideas, etc.). Instead, create an iron-clad contract that can protect your ideas and concepts, even if the partnership ultimately fails.

Splitting the Business 50/50

Doing a 50/50 business split might seem like the best way to avoid conflicts, but it can actually do you more harm than good. In fact, successful businesses are rarely split right down the middle. Instead, most businesses have a 60/40 or 70/30 split, where one party (typically the one with the idea, but not always) owns more of the company. Not only does this protect you, should the business end, but it also gives your customers a “point of contact,”  a person who is responsible and accountable for operations.

Partnerships Without a Legal Contract

While as contract is not needed to start a partnership, entrepreneurs are highly encouraged to ensure they have one before embarking on a shared venture. Able to protect your business and ideas while also decreasing the risk of problems if the business fails, your contract should define every aspect of the partnership – from how responsibilities and shares are split to how the partners can exit the business if they so choose. An experienced business law attorney can explain your options and assist you in developing a contract that benefits and protects all parties.

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, we prioritize the future success of our clients. Backed by more than 40 years of legal experience, our DuPage County small business attorneys can assist you with all aspects of starting your business. Schedule your personalized consultation to get started. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/196912

Choosing the Right Structure for Your New Business

DuPage County business law attorneysYou have the idea, the business plan, and may even have an estimate of just how successful your business will be. Still, you are not quite sure which business structure you should choose. Believe it or not, this is actually a very common issue among new business owners. Often, this is due to the legal and financial complexities of each structure. Get information on the basics with the following information, and then learn how an attorney can assist you with finding the right structure for your new business.

Sole Proprietorship

This is the most basic of all business structures, and it is often the simplest in regard to taxation.  However, there are some serious limitations. You may have a hard time obtaining a business loan if you do not have good credit, and you are responsible for all of your debts, assets, and liabilities. So, if you run into financial troubles, you run the risk of losing your business. Also, in Illinois, you have to file your business with the county clerk's office if the business is not the same as your full legal name, and you must file for a Federal Employer Identification Number if you plan to hire employees.

Partnerships

Partnerships, though a little more complex, are still relatively straightforward as far as taxation. Losses and profits are "passed through" the personal taxes of the partners. However, they are not personally held liable if there is an issue with debt later on down the road. Unfortunately, there is a major drawback with this particular business model: partners are taxed for profits, even if they do not directly receive them. So, if profits are used to expand the business, you still have to pay taxes on them. You also have to have at least one "general partner" who is responsible for managing the project.

Corporations

Of all the business structures, corporations are often the most complex. They require extensive record-keeping, often have higher taxation, and are generally more expensive to start up. Still, they do offer the most protection when it comes to taxes and liability, should the business have financial troubles later on. An attorney can help you understand whether or not this structure is right for your business.

Limited Liability Companies

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) mix the benefits of a corporation and a partnership. Taxation is personal, so it does not include the higher taxes of a business. However, business owners are still protected from the liability, should the business run into financial trouble later on down the road. For this reason, it is becoming one of the most popular business models among businesses with two or more partners/owners.

Deciding Which Structure is Right for Your Business

Even with all of this information, it can be difficult to determine which business structure might be most appropriate for your business. There are complex rules, regulations, and limitations for each structure, and the taxation and liability for each could be crippling, depending on the structure you choose or the nature of your business. An attorney can help you examine all of these various factors and help you understand how each one may impact your future, and the future of your business.

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield and McGrath LLC, we work directly with business owners, partners, sole proprietors, and entrepreneurs to help them find the road to success. Committed, dedicated, and highly skilled, we can assist you with your business, right from the very start, and can even continue to protect your interests throughout the entire life of your business. To learn more about the benefits of hiring a DuPage County business law attorney, call us at 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/BeginHere/Pages/StepByStepGuide.aspx

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/business-structures