I get asked sometimes how important it is to make sure things are in writing. For instance, should I have an agreement with another potential owner of a company put in writing before forming the company? And if so (which the answer is almost always yes), how carefully worded does it need to be?
Well to answer that, I bring you Leffler v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, which was recently heard at the Colorado Court of Appeals (Case No. 09CA2299 for anyone interested). In this case, the Court of Appeals has to determine what the word “stump” in the Colorado Revised Statutes meant. In particular, as it applied to this case, whether someone who had lost part of his fingers had “stumps” that qualified for additional compensation under the law.
So you may be wondering, is the law that particular that someone would fight over whether “stump” meant losing your arm from the wrist down or does just a finger count? In some cases, yes it is that particular. That is why when you have an agreement with another person it is important that not only do you have it in writing, but you have that writing reviewed (or written) by someone with knowledge of the law. The last thing you want to do is spend money fighting over the meaning of a word, phrase, or paragraph in your agreement!
(And for those wondering, the Court did rule that “stump” also applied to the lose of just a finger.)