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Have Your Day in Court?

Lawsuits happen-and as with any other aspect of negotiating, it's up to you to get the best deal for your business.

This story appears in the April 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Litigation is one of the most time-consuming, aggravating, expensive and unpredictable risks that deal-makers have to face. Unfortunately, in the litigious society we live in, if you haven't already had the pleasure, you're probably overdue for some sort of legal entanglement.

You'll know you've been sued when you receive a formal notice. Generally, a written response must be filed within 20 or 30 days, depending on the court. So move quickly, or you may lose valuable rights. First, find out if you're covered by one of your existing insurance policies-for example, a homeowner's, general liability or umbrella. You may be pleasantly surprised. If so, contact your insurer promptly. Otherwise, they may point to the fine print and claim that your delay has relieved them of their obligations.

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