Any time someone talks about the need for business insurance, one of the first things they say is, “if McDonald’s has to pay someone for spilling hot coffee on themselves, I guess you can get sued for anything.”
Yes, you can get sued for anything. Investigation of the McDonald’s coffee case reveals this to be an oversimplification. The case was highly publicized in the mid 1990s. The plaintiff was awarded a substantial amount of money, and there was enough evidence for a jury to reach a verdict and for McDonald’s to decide to settle.
When I hear this case, however, or any product liability case, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t the payout … it’s the legal costs. If someone decides to sue your company because they were injured by your product, the first thing you have to do is secure a lawyer to fight for you. If you get a good one, they will work to make sure you don’t have to pay out anything unwarranted.
The problem is that winning the case isn’t cheap. Whether the issue at had is your fault or not, the legal fees could easily be in the thousands just to get a case dismissed. I’m pretty sure no small business owner reading this has the resources of McDonald’s to defend themselves in court.
The most important part of any liability insurance policy is the promise of the insurance company to hire lawyers to defend your business.
The next issue is making sure your policy includes coverage for the types of things that might get you sued. For that you need to talk with your commercial insurance agent. Shoot me an email if you’re not sure what your insurance policy covers.
For more information on the McDonald’s How Coffee Case, follow this link: