Dollywood, the theme park owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., is under legal fire. According to a report by TMZ, Tedi Brown fell off one of the rides in 2013 and is suing the owners of Dollywood, claiming that she…
- Was permitted to go on the Waltzing Swinger ride despite the slick, unsafe conditions caused by rain and sleet.
- Slipped from her seat and fell headfirst to the concrete 10 feet below.
- Suffered life-changing brain injuries because of the fall.
The lawsuit seeks $475,000 in damages.
You probably aren't a country music legend or the owner of an amusement park, but you may have more in common with Dollywood's conundrum than you think. For starters, every business has some kind of premises liability – that is, the responsibility to make sure your commercial property is safe for the public. If someone suffers a bodily injury while visiting your business, they can sue over medical expenses and other damages.
That's why every business – from a one-person, home-based business to an up-and-coming restaurant with lines out the door – should invest in General Liability Insurance. It's the only policy that can protect you when your business is sued over the injuries your clients and guests sustain on your premises.
General Liability Insurance: Why You Need It and Why You'll Love It
You may think the chance of a visitor getting hurt on your property is slim, especially if you work in the relatively innocuous comforts of an office building. But when you consider that the most common injuries are slips, trips, and falls – accidents that can happen anywhere – suddenly, no place is completely safe. For perspective, the National Safety Council states that slip or fall accidents…
- Account for 8.9 million trips to the ER.
- Caused 25,000 deaths in 2009.
Even if a visiting client is injured at your home office, your business is responsible for their costs, which can be exorbitant, depending on the injury. And don't count on your homeowner's insurance policy to cover the expense – most policies don't cover business-related accidents (more on that here: "Have a Home-Based Business? Your Homeowner's Insurance Might Not Have You Covered"). Again, it's up to a Commercial General Liability policy to save the day.
Reliable Coverage for Different Lawsuit Outcomes
Bodily injury lawsuits have three possible outcomes:
- The case is thrown out because of insufficient legal groundwork.
- The case is settled.
- The case is tried at court.
General Liability Insurance can help out no matter which way the case goes. For example, even if the lawsuit against Dollywood is thrown out, a General Liability policy can still pay for the park's legal defense costs, which can be a hefty sum in their own right. (Small businesses can expect to pay $2,000 to $5,000 in lawyer fees for meritless lawsuits.) After all, Dollywood has to respond to the lawsuit, otherwise it would risk having a default judgment made against it, possibly for the full $475k the plaintiff is seeking.
But the policy can also cover mediation or arbitration costs to resolve the issue and the ensuing settlement amount. If the Dollywood lawsuit goes to trial, GL can cover court costs, lawyer fees, and judgments, if any.
The same is true for your business. Your GL policy can address a number of legal outcomes and ensure your business doesn't suffer the financial consequences on the journey toward a resolution.