Featured image by Gino Santa Maria
If you own a business, no matter the sort, you almost certainly will find yourself facing a personal injury claim at some point. After all, accidents happen. People trip and fall or wear and tear to your building contributes to an injury onsite.
But that’s why every business carries general liability insurance. State law often requires these policies. Liability insurance also covers other common business issues, such as property damage. They also have a hidden benefit. When someone suffers an injury at your business, it’s highly unlikely the case will actually make it to court.
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Lawsuits and Settlements with Onsite Injuries
Many people fail to understand that in our legal system the majority of cases, no matter the type, never make their way to a courtroom. Defendants take a lesser plea to minimize the risk of a long sentence. Wealthy healthcare systems or corporations settle their cases and require plaintiffs to sign non-disclosure agreements. Parties even resolve much smaller issues around a table with lawyers. And the same can be said of injury claims against your business.
If someone who has had an onsite injury sues your business, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury lawyer. They can work with your insurance provider to determine whether it’s worth taking the case to court or not. In most cases, it will make more sense for your insurance policy to simply settle the claim, paying for the medical expenses or damages the injured party is seeking. Why? Because it’s actually the less expensive way to resolve the problem.
Research, Court Fees, and More
As noted above, in the larger context of our legal system there are many different reasons why parties might settle a case out of court. When it comes to slip-and-fall cases or similar claims against a business, however, the cost equation is typically quite simple. This is especially true when the onsite injuries are minor. These cases cost relatively little to settle, but the research and legal fees it takes to argue them in court are not. And, as a small business, almost every lawsuit you face will be fairly small unless you’ve done something terribly wrong. In that case, you’ll have a very different problem on your hands.
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“What If I Could Win?”
The most significant objection that small businesses typically have when they learn they should settle out of court is that they could win the case if it went before a judge. That may be true, but it doesn’t always matter. This is because it will cost your insurance company more to pay your legal fees. Trials are expensive and time-consuming, even for minor onsite injuries. Moreover, ultimately, your insurance company isn’t invested in whether or not you were really at fault if the cost of the settlement is small. A few meetings with your insurance company and a lawyer, however, can make the balance of the situation quite clear.
Though we think of courts as all about determining guilt or innocence, as a small business with proper insurance coverage, you need to let go of that. This is not the criminal system, and even in that system settlements are common. Recognizing this is key to working successfully with your insurance. So follow their lead when one of your employees is injured onsite. That’s why you have insurance coverage.
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