If you were innocently assaulted, stabbed, or even shot at a Florida nightclub, bar, or restaurant, would you expect that the owner of the business would have insurance to help you pay your medical bills or damages? You might be surprised to learn that many – if not most – restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in Florida, do not carry proper insurance to response to such negligent security claims. And many of these businesses do not even know it. Many commercial general liability insurance policies contain exclusions that negate insurance coverage for losses related to assaults, batteries, or any liabilities related to alcohol consumption in any way. These exclusions have been interpreted very broadly by courts so as to give insurance companies a lot of protection, but they leave businesses sometimes helplessly directly exposed to injury or wrongful death claims. Insurance agents rarely bring these exclusions to the attention of their commercial insurance clients, and many agents and insurance companies will not offer or include alcohol liability or assault and battery coverage for a business unless it is specifically requested. To make matters more confusing, there is little uniformity in these types of coverage, so the business owner rarely knows exactly what he is purchasing, even when he specifically asks for it. For example, some liquor liability policies feature declining limits provisions that reduce the available insurance limits by the amount of attorneys’ fees incurred in the defending the claim. In a case involving sustained litigation, a bar owner might find there is little or no insurance money left at the end of the case to compensate the injury victim. Another potentially problematic area concerns coverage for off-premises activities. For example, if a restaurant or bar participates in a festival or “Taste Of…” event off of its normal premises, liquor liability coverage might not apply. If you are injured in a fight or similar event, or injured as a result of the service or providing of alcohol at a bar or restaurant, securing a copy of the business’ insurance policy will be critical to understanding your options. At the same time, if you are business owner that faces a claim arising our of alcohol consumption or an assault or battery, and your insurance company is trying to avoid covering you, you may want to consult with an attorney to find out what rights you may have. If you have questions regarding a potential claim against a Florida restaurant, bar, or nightclub, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen or Robert Hemphill at...Read More »
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