Businesses can be liable for injuries to others, whether the harm involves physical injury, financial losses, or something else. When someone suffers injuries, and a company is at fault, the injured individual usually turns to the company’s commercial general liability coverage to seek compensation for their losses.
Before a business gets into steep legal trouble, owners must ensure they have the right commercial general insurance policy. Commercial general liability policies cover personal injury, advertising injury, or property damage caused by the company’s negligence or its agents. Essentially any damages or losses that are not a result of professional negligence can have coverage under these policies.
If you suffered an injury due to the conduct of a business, you will need to file a claim with the company’s commercial general liability insurance. This can be challenging, as insurance companies protect their profits by limiting claim payouts. Always seek help from a personal injury law firm that regularly deals with commercial liability claims.
Commercial General Liability Claims
Below are some types of injuries and losses that commercial general liability policies might cover. If you have any of these claims, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney for help with the process.
Coverage A: Property Damage and Bodily Injury
There are various coverage options in a commercial general liability policy. The first, also referred to as Coverage A, addresses property damage and bodily injury.
The policy covers damages to a person or party due to non-professional negligent acts. It also covers damages from premises liability, such as slips and falls, and general business operations. Keep in mind that mental and emotional injuries fall under this segment of coverage even if there is no physical harm.
One other potential issue that can arise is product liability. If a business produces, sells, or distributes products and causes an injury, this insurance should cover all the victim’s losses. If you slip and fall at a grocery store due to dangerous hazards, you will need to file a claim against the store’s general liability coverage. Insurers often blame the injured customer for the accident to shield the insurer and business from liability, and this makes these claims challenging. Seek legal help right away after this type of injury.
Coverage B: Personal or Advertising Injuries
There are other types of injuries that consumers can suffer due to business conduct and marketing.
Several of these that fall under the umbrella of commercial general liability coverage include:
- False arrest
- Malicious prosecution
- Using another person’s advertising idea
- Copyright infringement
- Invasion of property
- Wrongful eviction
If you suffered any of the above, you can file a claim against the same policy as you might if you broke your leg in a fall on commercial premises. You will face the same challenges as you might filing a claim for physical injuries.
Coverage C: Medical Coverage
We mentioned businesses should have coverage for injuries as part of their commercial general liability policy. Coverage C provides medical payments for anyone injured on company property who is not an employee. If an employee suffers injuries on the property, that should be a workers’ compensation issue.
If you suffer harm as a customer or visitor to a business, you may seek damages for your injury and losses, including coverage of all your necessary medical care.
Some of the items medical coverage applies to include:
- Surgical expenses
- Hospital visits
- Ambulance transport
- Professional nursing services
- Funeral services
- Other medical costs
You might think you face a lengthy legal battle with a company if you suffered injuries on the premises and need extensive medical care. Companies themselves often do not have the funds to cover the costs of catastrophic injuries, and they might even go bankrupt.
When a business has commercial general liability coverage, you can seek medical payment coverage directly from the general liability insurer, often avoiding a lawsuit altogether, depending on the insurer’s settlement offers.
Specific industries such as agriculture, industrial, and some commercial, might cause property damage and bodily injury due to pollution and other environmental damage. Companies at risk of doing so can carry an insurance endorsement for pollution liability as part of the commercial general liability policy.
With this endorsement, you can seek benefits for injuries due to gradual, sudden, and accidental pollution. If a company does not have this endorsement, it will need to pay for any damage and pollution clean-up from business assets.
This liability coverage should apply to any business that sells, manufactures, or serves alcohol. If someone leaves an establishment that improperly served them alcohol and they cause a drunk driving accident or another injury, some states have dram shop laws that allow injured victims to hold the business liable for their injuries.
To seek compensation for injuries by an overserved driver, you need to file a claim against a general liability policy. Insurance companies regularly challenge dram shop claims, so that claimants can be in for a fight. If you were the victim of a drunk driver drinking at a bar or restaurant before a crash, seek help from a lawyer who can investigate a possible dram shop claim against the business’s general liability coverage.
What Businesses Have Commercial General Liability Insurance?
While it may not be a state requirement for businesses to have commercial liability coverage, building owners may have to carry it. Even if a company does not have a general liability policy, many purchase coverage.
Generally, parties that cause accidents and might have coverage include companies that:
- Have a storefront, office, or building that is open to the public and potential clients
- Work near client property
- Create advertising and marketing materials to promote the business
- Hire temporary employees
Some of the most common industries that purchase commercial general liability insurance include:
- IT contractors
- Small business owners
- Artisan contractors
- Real estate agents
- Landscaping companies
- Marketing firms
From the company’s standpoint, commercial general liability insurance covers a business and its owners from the most common risks associated with running a business. However, from an injured victim’s perspective, this coverage provides imperative benefits to cover medical expenses, lost injuries, pain and suffering, and other losses stemming from an injury.
How Commercial General Liability Insurance Claims Work
If you suffered an injury for which a business is liable, you will probably file a claim against the business’s general liability insurance policy. As an accident victim, you should be aware that filing an insurance claim can be a complicated process and that insurance companies will do everything they can to settle your claim for as little as possible. If they can find any way to deny your claim, they will likely do so. Some of the steps in the insurance claim process are detailed below.
Filing a Claim
The first step in the insurance claim process is officially filing the claim. Typically, this involves significant paperwork and presenting supporting documentation regarding your losses. Such documentation will need to prove liability for your injuries and your losses.
Proof of a company’s liability will depend on the accident type. Evidence of losses can include medical records and bills, pay statements showing lost income, and more. If you have future losses, your lawyer might present expert opinions to support the estimated damages.
In addition, your claim should include a formal demand letter setting out how much compensation you deserve and why. Your lawyer should always draft this demand to ensure you cover all your bases.
Attempting to Negotiate a Settlement
It is improbable that the insurance company will offer to pay you what you are asking right away. Instead, they will likely make a significantly lower offer, setting the stage for settlement negotiations. When negotiating a settlement, retain an attorney to represent you.
Remember, general liability insurers handle claims every day and presumably have more experience than you regarding personal injury law. The best way to even the playing field is to retain a lawyer that knows how to get victims the compensation they deserve. Furthermore, the mere fact that you have an attorney at all will put the other side on notice that you are willing to take your case to court, increasing the chances of a fair settlement offer.
The Insurer’s Role in Lawsuits Against Businesses
Sometimes, insurance companies will not make fair settlement offers in commercial general liability claims. You have no obligation to accept a settlement that fails to cover your losses, and your injury lawyer can advise when a settlement is too low.
When you reject a settlement offer, and your attorney believes that a fair offer directly from the insurance company is unlikely to follow, they might prepare to file a personal injury lawsuit. The defendant you name in the case will be the liable business, though, as mentioned, the company likely does not want – or cannot – cover your losses from its assets. Any pretrial settlements or awards at trial will not come from the company’s pockets – those funds will come from its commercial general liability insurance coverage.
This means that – essentially – you are filing a lawsuit against the insurance company, as well. The insurer will involve itself in every step of the case, and its legal team will likely be the ones defending against your claims.
The litigation process is complex, and steps might entail:
- Initial pleadings
- Pretrial motions
You can bet the insurance company’s attorneys have been through the litigation process many times and know the drill. You need a litigator on your side with experience going up against corporate insurers in court.
During this process, your attorney can continually try to settle the matter with the insurance company. Pretrial settlement negotiations can happen any time before a trial verdict, and most cases settle instead of going to trial. Your injury attorney will review all of the evidence the insurance company has to challenge your claim and will use evidence to support your claim and argue that you have a strong chance of winning in court.
If an insurance company realizes that you have strong evidence and a capable attorney, its representatives are more likely to offer a favorable amount. They want to avoid going to trial, where the judge or jury might award more money than you were willing to accept.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will present your case, and the insurance company’s lawyer will give the defendant’s case. Ensure you have highly qualified legal representation in case this becomes necessary.
Have Questions About General Liability Claims? Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
Businesses should have adequate commercial general liability insurance and endorsements depending on the particular risks of the harm their operations present. This coverage is a key factor if you suffer injuries due to the company’s negligence or that of an employee.
If you suffered injuries and a company was to blame, you want the right legal help when filing a claim against the company’s general liability insurance. These insurers work to limit liability, but the right personal injury lawyer will know how to handle the claim process to your benefit. Seek a free case evaluation today and always ask whether the injury lawyer handles claims against commercial general liability policies.
There are unique challenges to these claims, and you want the best chance to obtain total compensation for your injuries and losses. The first step is to seek medical care for your injuries and establish medical records. Keep up with your treatment, and also seek help to protect your legal rights.