Accidents can and will happen even if your small business is prepared for any scenario. And when those accidents happen on your commercial property, you can be sued over the third party's bodily injuries.
The good news: General Liability Insurance can cover a slew of lawsuits, including bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury claims. It can pay for…
- Medical costs.
- Lawyers' fees.
- Settlements and judgments.
- Other court costs.
But did you know your General Liability policy can also cover the cost of an ambulance for a customer injured on your property? Let's learn more.
911, What's Your General Liability Emergency?
Say you’re a small deli owner. There’s winter slush all over your floor from customers’ boots. A customer orders a mammoth sandwich and a large soda. While attempting to balance his heavy tray, the man slips on the wet tiles. He slams his face into the floor and gets a nasty cut on his forehead. You help him staunch the blood loss with a clean dish towel. The cut on his face looks severe and may need stitches. He complains of dizziness.
What’s your next step? You can…
- Leave the customer alone. Idleness mostly likely won’t do you any favors, but the customer may refuse any help. He could wave off your concern and leave on his own. (More on this later.)
- Offer first aid. Your deli probably has a first aid kit and ice for swelling. And you know that if the customer decides to sue your deli over his slip-and-fall injury, your General Liability Insurance can pay the damages you owe.
- Call for an ambulance. In an emergency situation, even if you’re in doubt, you should call for an ambulance. Your GL policy's medical expenses coverage will likely cover the cost of calling an ambulance for the customer’s injury. Most insurance companies would rather pay the relatively small cost of emergency transportation than the potentially huge costs arising from an untreated illness or injury.
What to Do When Someone Refuses Care
Let’s revisit our example above. Say you offer to call an ambulance for the customer, but he declines. The customer says he is fine and will drive himself to the hospital. While you should respect his right to refusal of care, err on the side of caution and have someone call an ambulance, and then check on the customer.
When EMS arrives, let the professionals make the call. EMTs and paramedics typically abide by education standards from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including “informed consent” – all patients have the right to accept or refuse care. When a patient turns down care or transport to a hospital from emergency medical services, he must sign a refusal of medical assistance form acknowledging he is acting against medical advice. This basically releases EMS and supporting personnel from liability resulting from refusal. Refusal of medical assistance laws vary from state to state.
You may want customers sign a similar refusal of care form releasing your small business from liability if they refuse medical assistance when injured on your property, but it probably wouldn’t hold up in court. You’re not a medical professional, so you can't adequately inform an injured or ill individual about their medical risks.