Small Business Formation and Internet Law FAQ

You may be interested in one of our other FAQ sections: visit our traffic, reckless driving, DUI, and Estate Planning FAQs.

[kc_heading_pac_6_pre_headline_1 size=”35″ color=”#0000″ ]Virginia Business Law for Small Business Owners: Entity Formation, Websites, Social Media, and Online Advertising Law[/kc_heading_pac_6_pre_headline_1]

Why should I speak with a lawyer when deciding on the type of entity for my business?

Why is it so important to “limit liability?”

Even if I form a limited liability company or corporation, can an injured party still sue me personally?

Should I speak with a lawyer if I want to change entity type for an existing business?

What legal sections should every business website include?

Does a business with a social media account/page/profile need to consider the legal possibilities?

What can a business do if it wants to use a modern website and take advantage of social media?

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Why should I speak with a lawyer when deciding on the type of entity for my business?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

If you are starting a business, you are probably aware of the need to, at the very least, assess whether it makes the most sense to exist as a particular business entity. Some of the most common entity types are: the Limited Liability Company, the S Corporation, the C Corporation, the Professional Limited Liability Company, and the limited liability version of a partnership.  With an attorney experienced in business formation and entity selection, you can ensure your choice is the best entity structure for your business and financial situation.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Why is it so important to “limit liability?”[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

For many people forming a business, limitation of liability is a major reason for forming a corporation or limited liability entity.

Think of it this way: a business becomes an entity (like a person) with its own debts and liabilities.  “Liabilities” exist in many forms.  But if a business is operated as a sole proprietorship (meaning, it is not separate from the person running the show), then the liability risk is much great.

For example, imagine if someone opened a day care facility.  One day, spilled water caused a fall and a broken bone.  If the day care business is a limited liability entity, then that means the owner of the day care facility could not be sued (absent other facts) generally speaking.  The company would be the proper party to sue.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Even if I form a limited liability company or corporation, can an injured party still sue me personally?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Yes, it is possible.  The concept known is “piercing the corporate veil” is a way in which those harmed by businesses operating under the guise of limited liability protection harm people, but are not really and truly operated as separate entities.  Reasons for holding the owners liable and thus, piercing the veil, include gross under-capitalization of the business, commingling of personal and business funds/ accounts, and fraud (among other things).

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Should I speak with a lawyer if I want to change entity type for an existing business?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Yes.  Depending on the form of your business and the type of entity you want to restructure as, there could be important taxation and employment law-related issues.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]What legal sections should every business website include?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Every website that is a means of advertising a business’ services or products should include the following sections: (speak with your Northern Virginia Business Law Firm today for document preparation)

–          Terms of Service and Conditions for Use (all businesses)

–          Privacy Policy (all businesses)

–          Anti-Spam Policy (most businesses)

–          DCMA Compliance (some businesses)

–          Social Media Disclosure (some businesses)

–          Copyright Notice (most or all businesses)

–          FTC Statement (some businesses)

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Does a business with a social media account/page/profile need to consider the legal possibilities?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Yes.  In today’s always-changing world of social media, new forms of communication are coming out all the time.  To protect your business from claims made regarding what you or others have posted, linked to, or referenced on social media, a very specific type of legal form can be used on the business website and linked to via the social media accounts.  The basic principle is to disclose to all visitors that as a user of your website and a visitor of your social media profile(s), they understand anything may be posted by other users, and any liability based on such posts, uploads, updates, etc., is disclaimed.  The Vincenzes Law Firm refers to this specific document as the Social Media Disclosure Page.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]What can a business do if it wants to use a modern website and take advantage of social media?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Based on the answer to the previous question, a Social Media Disclosure Page should be utilized at the very least.  In addition, various industry-specific disclaimers may be necessary to comply with the rules applicable to the particular business.

 

The following two tabs change content below.
Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, NORML, and has been awarded the following in 2014-15: Top 100 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Nationally Ranked Top 10 Under 40 Defense Attorney (National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys) 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for Criminal Defense (American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys) Nationally Ranked Top 1% Attorney Award Recipient (National Association of Distinguished Counsel) As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes select pro bono clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes represents men, women, and juveniles through zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work preparation. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.

Speak Your Mind