What Is Personal Injury? 

Claims involving libel, slander, and false arrest occur more often than you might expect. Here’s what you should know about personal injury, the risks it poses to your business, and how to protect yourself from these claims.

No business wants to think about the possibility of being held responsible for an accident involving a client or customer. But injury can happen at any time, in any industry — even in cases involving seasoned professionals. That’s why it’s important to get insurance that protects your organization from the expensive aftermath of personal injury.

What Counts as Personal Injury?

When you think of personal injury, you might first think of physical harm to someone’s body, such as a broken bone. Slip-and-fall accidents on commercial premises would be a classic example here. However, this type of accident actually falls under the General Liability category of bodily injury.

To understand the full personal injury definition, it helps to take a step back and think about all the things that can be considered harmful to another person or entity besides bodily injury and property damage, like:

  •  False arrest
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Wrongful eviction
  • Invasion of private premises
  • Libel and slander
  • Invasion of privacy via published writing
  • Copyright infringement in advertisement

As these examples demonstrate, personal injury is a nuanced concept. And businesses need to take every precaution against liability in case they inadvertently injure another party.

What Are Some Examples of Personal Injury Claims?

Since there are so many different categories of violations that can be considered personal injury, it’s helpful to see some examples in action.

Here are a few scenarios illustrating the scope of personal injury:

False Arrest: You believe that a client owes you money for a recent project that you completed for them. When you finally track them down, you get them in a room and say you’re not letting them leave until they give you the money. After this episode, it comes to light that they had in fact paid their balance in full, and they sue you for false arrest or detention.

Libel: You hear word that your business rival has been badmouthing you to potential clients. In retaliation, you post about your rival on social media, claiming they’re a liar and can’t be trusted. This type of public defamation is something that could get you in trouble on the grounds of libel.

Malicious Prosecution: You’re a contractor and have a work van you park outside your house at night. Your direct competitor a few blocks over has been trying to poach your business for years. One day, you find that your van has been graffitied. In a fit of anger, you start telling everyone your competitor did it and even press charges. Despite later discovering security footage that shows the damage was actually done by a group of teenagers, you continue with prosecuting your competitor. In turn, your competitor sues you for malicious prosecution.

Copyright Infringement in Advertising: You’re trying to build an online brand in a highly competitive niche. So, you come up with a clever slogan that excites you. You quickly add it to your website and create several online marketing campaigns around it. A few weeks later you get sued by another business owner in a similar market who was already using a nearly identical slogan.

As you can see, there are a number of scenarios in which you could be potentially held liable for personal injury. This means you need to consider ways to safeguard your business against being sued.

Can You Protect Yourself from Being Sued in a Personal Injury Claim?

When it comes to protecting yourself from getting sued for a personal injury claim, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Understanding how these laws pertain to your line of work will help you insulate your business against an expensive lawsuit.

For instance, it doesn’t matter if you’re a contractor or a photographer; if someone doesn’t pay you for your services, you should never detain them in order to get your money. And any company that engages in marketing and branding could be accused of copyright infringement.

As you can see, it’s extremely important that you get insurance that will cover you in the event you’re found liable for one of these things. General Liability insurance can give business owners more peace of mind that their finances are protected.

What’s Covered by General Liability Insurance?

When you carry General Liability insurance, you’re protecting yourself against liability in the case of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury.

You’re never planning to harm a client or damage their property, of course. But no amount of preparation can defend you against all forms of accidents. The only way to ensure this is to, well, get insured.

The costs associated with personal injury don’t just pertain to the damages themselves. You also need to consider the costs that come with having to defend yourself in court. Lawyers’ fees can sometimes be even greater than the cost of the actual damage. Without General Liability insurance, you’re going to be on the hook for paying all these fees.

You also want to think about your own peace of mind. The stress and anxiety of worrying about the financial repercussions of an accident can bleed over into the rest of your life and distract you from the work itself. Furthermore, many people won’t even hire companies or independent contractors without General Liability insurance coverage.

What’s Not Covered by General Liability Insurance?

It’s important to note that certain things are not covered under most General Liability insurance policies. You should talk to your provider to understand exactly what your plan includes, and touch base throughout the year to make sure your plan still fits your needs.

These are some of the things that generally aren’t going to be covered under Commercial General Liability insurance:

  • Your own property
  • Vehicles and boats
  • Professional services
  • Personal identifiable information
  • Intent to injure
  • Incidents that occur outside the policy period
  • Employee injury
  • Workers compensation
  • Known claims originating before the start of policy

It’s worth going over a few of these things in more detail. Some of these, such as employee injury and damage to your own property, will require different kinds of insurance — workers compensation and property insurance, respectively.

You’re also not going to be covered by General Liability insurance if an incident or claim happens outside of your coverage period. This is why it’s so important to always make sure your insurance is current.

What Do You Need to Submit a General Liability Clam?

To submit a General Liability insurance claim, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Your name, email, and phone number
  • The name of the policy holder (either your name or your business’s name)
  • The policy number
  • Claimant name (person or party who suffered injury)
  • Date and location of the incident
  • Description of the incident
  • Where the damaged property is now if you have that information
  • Any possible documentation, like photos, police reports, etc.

If you carry a Thimble policy to protect your small business, you can submit your claim by emailing newclaims@markel.com, calling the Markel Claims hotline at 800-362-7535, or sending a fax to 855-662-7535. You should try to file your claim as soon as you can — after you’ve spoken to any necessary authorities and ensured that everyone involved is safe. Thimble policies are underwritten by Markel Insurance Company, which has a fantastic track record and financial strength rating.

How Long Does It Take to Get Reimbursed for a General Liability Claim?

You should receive your claim immediately once your coverage, details surrounding the incident, and other relevant information have been verified. During this whole process, it’s important that you don’t claim responsibility for the incident nor share information with anyone besides insurance representatives and law enforcement agents.

Personal injury liability can threaten the bottom line for your business. Make sure you have a General Liability insurance policy that fits your needs. Learn more about Thimble coverage today.

Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.

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