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Take Note

Document incidents now, and avoid lawsuits later.

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This story appears in the October 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It was a rainy day, and your floors were wet from dripping umbrellas. The customer who slipped didn't appear to be injured; she refused medical attention and insisted she was fine. In minutes, the whole thing was over-or so you thought. But a few months later, she's suing for medical costs plus pain and suffering. And because you didn't make any notes, your insurance company has to try to defend you without any evidence.

Proper documentation at the time could have put you in a much stronger position. If a situation occurs and you think there's any chance that an attorney might become involved, document the incident, advises , an attorney and mediator based in Anaheim Hills, California. "Documentation gives you the ability to cut off [bogus] claims early and to settle cases [you're liable for] more quickly," Searle says.

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