Most businesses carry general liability insurance, particularly if they invite customers on site to do business. That’s because under Maine statutes, a person who is invited onto the property for the financial benefit of the property owner is owed the highest duty of care and has the right to expect they will be reasonably safe. General liability insurance typically covers businesses from liability lawsuits stemming from claims like slip-and-fall injuries, falling merchandise, or some other dangerous condition.
However, those establishments that sell alcohol and invite patrons to drink on site should consider additional coverage because there are claims unique to these entities. For example, some bars and restaurants face the possibility of dram shop liability, in which those injured by a drunk driver can sue the bar where workers served that driver alcohol. Another possibility is that of third-party liability for criminal assault. Of course, there is a potential for this kind of action in many different business settings, but especially so at a bar where patrons’ inhibitions may be lowered, making some more aggressive and others more vulnerable.
In a recent Maine Supreme Judicial Court case, the question is whether an insurance company should have to indemnify the business for injuries sustained by a man who was beaten by a fellow patron at the bar. The claim by the bar against the insurer doesn’t have a direct bearing on the injury lawsuit filed by the patron, except that by making the bar directly liable rather than the insurer, there is a risk the bar won’t be able to pay out the full damages, depending on how much those damages are and the health of the business.