Q: What are my rights ??
I provided a cleaning service in a persons property, They are now claiming an hour after I left the property that I must have broke an electronic but in no way could I have damaged it? what are each of our rights? I am a new business owner vs a 30 yr business owner dealing with these types of situations..
Also, Insurance for this matter was not in affect at time of service by servicer but property owner does have insurance as it was done at customers place of business.
A: Don't panic! Disputes like this one are very common in all businesses, and more oftentimes they are settled without the need for expensive litigation. Typically these types of claims are handled by your insurance, who will provide legal defense and indemnification (payment of your damages) on claims under your policy. Unfortunately, if there was no active policy at the time of the incident, then you may be on your own.
The first thing you need to know when dealing with a dispute is that it is the accuser's job to prove their case, it is not your job to prove that you are innocent (though when you are able to do so, it resolves these problems much faster); however, remember that you are still dealing with a customer! It is important to protect your business from direct liability for the damages, but also from impacts to your marketing and good-will. So, stand your ground, ask them for what proof they have that you or your company damaged their property, but remain courteous and professional. You then need to honestly evaluate their evidence against your documentation, and what you know, and determine if your company may have actually caused the damage. Sometimes the best strategy is to simply apologize and do what you can to make things right with the client. Other times, you need to stand up for yourself, show your client that you will not be bullied and make them back down.
This decision, and how you communicate it to the client, is difficult and may have long term effects on your business, which leads me to the best advice I can give: hire an attorney!
The biggest mistake that we see from business clients is waiting to call us until they are being sued. The earlier your attorney is involved, the better your financial outcome is likely to be, even accounting for the attorney's fees. For instance, an attorney may find coverage in your policy for the issue that you didn't think that you had. Business lawyers are particularly sensitive to the business needs of their clients, and can help you make decisions which will benefit your company in the long run. After all, a profitable client is a happy client!
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