There is no doubt that we have become a litigious society. According to one source, each year civil lawsuits cost our nation’s economy $239 billion, or about $812 for each American citizen. But what is especially unsettling for small business owners is that nearly 80 percent of people believe that personal injury attorneys encourage those who have not really been injured to sue. It has become more important than ever to protect yourself legally.
Small businesses are not exempt.
Some businesses think that they are too small to sue. Owners figure that once a litigant realizes there are no deep pockets, they will move on to bigger fish
Not a wise move.
Just the initial process of answering a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff requires hiring an attorney to handle the case. Even if the attorney is successful in dismissing a claim, fees and court costs mount quickly. And if the case does not get dismissed quickly, depositions are taken, discovery is propounded and witnesses interviewed. A simple slip and fall case can cost an uninsured (or underinsured!) business tens of thousands in legal fees alone.
Some business owners think that they are too small to sue and remain underinsured, but that is not a wise move.
The fact is that if you have a business selling any product or service to the public, you can be sued. If a child chips a tooth on some uncrushed ice, or a man stumbles and breaks an ankle on your property, that can turn into a legal problem. Sure, the payoff may be minimal or even non-existent. However, simply getting to that point is quite a costly and stressful endeavor that you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
The problem of being underinsured
Don’t feel complacent because you purchased the minimum liability insurance, either. While it could cover minor claims, what happens if something really serious befalls a customer on your property, like an injury after slipping on ice? What if an armed robber shoots and kills a customer at your place of business? Or if a child gets brain damage from a large limb of a tree falling on your property? Civil litigation can bankrupt a business, especially a small one, in an infinite number of ways.
No defendants in liability cases ever say, “I wish I hadn’t carried so much insurance.” If you any doubt whether your policy will protect you in a lawsuit, contact your insurance agent and review your policy limits. It is far better to carry more insurance than to see yourself headed to bankruptcy court.