Ways for Work-at-Home Contractors to Avoid Legal Issues
You might think that because you work from home you will never find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. And for the most part, contractors who operate in the home sphere simply don’t face the same types of liability that other business owners have to be aware of. For example, it is unlikely that you have employees in your home. Even if you use subcontractors they probably work remotely, just like you, so that you don’t have to worry about physical liability. And if you happen to host clients meetings in your home, your homeowners insurance should cover any accidents or injuries that may occur. Further, you don’t have to worry about workman’s compensation, you likely don’t have any loans that you could default on, and aside from your basic contract for work that outlines the project to be done, the time frame, and the pay rate, you probably won’t be dealing with tons of legal documents that require lengthy and expensive review by your attorney. That said, there are liability issues that could affect self-employed professionals like yourself and you need to know what they are in order to avoid them.
If, for example, you are involved in creating content or programs for online usage, advertising, and so on, you could run the risk of being sued for plagiarism, patent or copyright infringement, or something of the like. This one really depends on the type of work you do. If you are a blog writer that gets inspiration and information from a variety of online sources, you must name those sources or risk getting pegged for plagiarism. If you create original music, graphics, or videos and you borrow anything it could be construed as copyright infringement. And if you’re involved in coding software solutions for your clients, working off someone else’s code could result in a patent infringement suit. In truth, such a lawsuit could be launched even if you don’t “borrow”. If someone else thinks that your intellectual property is too similar to theirs they may sue you anyway. The idea is that you need to be really careful about the sources that you draw on in your line of work.
Another potential issue is breach of contract. Many freelance agents that work from home do so without creating their own contract. Instead they rely on their clients to provide this essential agreement that spells out the work to be done, the pay to be given, and other details. Even if you have your own contract your clients may not agree to use it (which is not to say you shouldn’t pay the minimal up-front cost to have an attorney draw one up for you). You just need to be aware of what you’re agreeing to at the outset so that you don’t find yourself on the receiving end of a suit because of a failure to meet the terms set forth in the contract.
As a work-at-home professional you are unlikely to ever need the services of a personal injury lawyer or an auto accident attorney Atlanta to Albany to Albuquerque. But that doesn’t mean you are immune to issues of liability. However, knowing the potential problems you could face on the legal front will help you to avoid oversights and ensure that your business is always on the up and up. Just in case, though, you might want to protect your personal assets by incorporating your business (forming an LLC) and setting up business accounts from which you draw a personal salary. This will help to ensure that anyone who sues you as a business entity can’t attack you personally.
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