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Every Business Legal Issue You Must Be Aware Of

When you run a business, you probably don’t think too much about the law. After all, why would you? You know that you’re not going to do anything illegal. You have every intention to run your business the right way and not deal with anything nefarious or dangerous. Sound about right? Of course, it does because the majority of business owners do want to run a legal operation. There are outliers, but we don’t need to worry about them because you’re probably nothing like that.

However, don’t assume this means you will never run into legal issues with your company. You could, and you could face penalties, financial trouble or a damaged business reputation. These are problems that you definitely don’t want and should be avoided if possible so let’s look at some of the ways that you can do that. We’re going to run through the most common legal issues, but rather than just saying what they are, let’s point you in the path of a solution to these problems. We can start with the big one, and that’s premises liability.

What’s Premises Liability?

Premises liability is simply a legal regulation that ensures those who own property are liable for anything that occurs on it. So, if someone gets injured or if someone is sexually harassed, you are the person responsible. It’s your business.

You might think that if you rent your business property, the landlord takes this responsibility but that’s not the case. The only people who don’t have to deal with premises liability is those who are working from home and running their company without employees.

If this does not describe your business model, this should be one of your top concerns. It could even result in the downfall of your entire company, and we’ve already touched on an important issue here. You shouldn’t just be thinking in terms of a physical accident because it could be anything. If someone is harassed in your business, bullied or even put under unfair amounts of stress, it could lead to a lawsuit related to premises liability.

Remember, ignorance is not an excuse. If an issue occurs at your property and you weren’t aware of the problem, that doesn’t get you off the hook. It’s your responsibility to be aware of the issues and deal with them if and when they arise. So, you need to take a preemptive strike here. Hire a health and safety officer. Their role will be to check your premises on a regular basis and make sure that any hazards are discovered and corrected. Failure to do this will result almost certainly in an accident that will cost you hundreds of thousands in damages, depending on the extent of the injury.

Then, you need to think about how to deal with emotional issues in your office. The answer here is to make sure that you are taking on an HR team. You can outsource this and still make sure that you are covered. With an HR team, you’ll be able to get the support you need and make sure that you are keeping tab on issues that could crop up in the office. This could be as simple as a five-minute survey for employees at the end of every week. Red flags can then be caught, brought up and addressed with individual workers to make sure a problem doesn’t become more serious and it really is as simple as that.

General Public

Then, you need to think about issues that can develop legally involving the general public. Now, you need to be aware that you could somehow harm or injure a member of the public due to your work. You might think this only applies to certain industries, but any business could be at risk here, so you need to be careful. An example would be meeting a client in a coffee shop and putting your bag down. Someone trips over the bag and hits their head. You are accountable for that injury.

This is why you need to make sure that you do have general liability insurance. With general liability insurance, you can avoid this issue completely and make sure that you are getting financial coverage for a problem. You might still get sued, but it won’t be coming from your business accounts if you have to pay damages or even legal costs which can be sizeable.

The other step to take is to make sure that you are aware of any and all potential hazards. Do not think for a moment that you can overthink potential hazards. Anything could cause an accident, and you could be liable.

Data Trouble

There are two issues you need to worry about with data. The first is being sued by the public. Remember, they are trusting you with their data and their financial information. If you fail to meet the standards of this trust, then you will be in a position where they can sue you and, depending on their lawyer, win quite a lot in damages. That’s what company managers need to learn. Hackers aren’t looking to take you down. They are looking to steal from your customers using the information you have. If this is due to a failure in your security levels, customers will be informed by their bank.

So, as well as being open to being sued, you could ultimately find yourself losing a customer and getting a rather bad buzz online. If a customer faces a loss or even just stress because of your actions, they are not going to keep their mouth shut. So you’ll have to deal with the fallout of their complaints and issue responses. As such, if possible it’s best to avoid the data breach completely.

Of course, that’s not the only issue here. You also need to be aware of the fact that if you fail to uphold data standards, the new GDPR law is going to come and bite you. This could lead to a hefty fine worth millions or a large percent of your annual income. Oh and it’s not an either-or situation, it’s whichever one is higher. So, if you fail the GDPR regulations, you’re in serious trouble financially.

The fixes here are simple. First, do make sure that you are investing a state of the art system to protect your data like for instance BitLocker deployment. By doing this, data will be encrypted on highly secure servers so even if you are hacked they won’t be able to access it.

You also need to make sure that you are hiring a legal advisor for the GDPR. Companies have eighteen months to get their business in shape and make sure they were legally compliant. However, you’ll notice there are plenty of sites that are still out, and that’s because they weren’t ready. If yours is one of them, you need to start with a legal hire. It’s the only way to make sure that you are on top of all the regulations and issues here that you need to be aware of.

Copyright and Patenting

The main issue with copyright is going to be accidentally using material that is owned by someone else on your business website or blog. It’s not hard to avoid this. If you use information from someone else’s site, do make sure that you reference or link back to then. Even posting on social media now requires you to make sure that you are linking back to the original poster or sharer of the content. In some cases, this can be nonsense, and it most likely won’t end up in a lawsuit, but it could definitely hurt your brand online.

You might find that if you are accused of plagiarism content, Google takes notice and knocks down your rank a few hundred pegs. This can be devastating for any brand large or small so be prepared and make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to avoid this. Hire a professional marketer if in doubt, and it’s never a bad move to contact that legal advisor.

The other issue is patenting, and this can be more serious. You might sell a product that you created, but another company could claim they own the patent or perhaps they own the name. At this point, you can end up in court. But again, hiring a lawyer is the best defense here, and you should do this before you are contacted about a potential lawsuit. You need to make sure that a patent for your product does not infringe on one already on the market. Failing to do this can lead to a lawsuit later down the line, and you may not have any chance of winning. In other words, you’ll just have to roll over, and you don’t want to be in that position.

We hope this helps you deal with some of the most common legal issues you must be aware of as a business owner. If you can tackle them head on and in most cases take preemptive measures, the worst impacts can be avoided completely.

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