Running a bar or restaurant offers a lot of great opportunities. You get to share good drinks and great food with your community. You feed people for a living. People celebrate good days and laugh away bad days, and your bar or restaurant are a part of it all.
Unfortunately, bars and restaurants are a hotbed of lawsuits from patrons. While there are things you can to do mitigate against lawsuits, you can’t prevent them completely. That’s why having the right type and amount of insurance is so important.
Common Lawsuits in Bars and Restaurants
Although anyone can sue for anything, certain types of lawsuits are more common for bars and restaurants.
- Slips and falls: Thanks to the constant movement, poured drinks, and spills from plates and glasses, wet floors are common in a bar or restaurant.
- Fights between patrons: Add a bit of alcohol to the mix and things can turn bad quickly. When two patrons get into an altercation, someone will likely get hurt. If your bar or restaurant served the alcohol or didn’t diffuse the situation, you might be held liable.
- Physical contact between employee and patron: This typically happens when a patron has too much to drink, and an employee has to remove them. Many establishments have a hands-off policy to avoid this and simply call the police.
- Serving alcohol to an already intoxicated person: Maybe they drank before they arrived in your establishment, but if you’re the last person to serve them alcohol, you could be held responsible for what happens when they leave. You need a policy in place for how to handle intoxicated patrons and when you’ll cut them off.
- Serving alcohol to minors: You know this is a big one, and of course, having a policy where you ID everyone is the best protection.
- Unruly behavior from patrons: Maybe they don’t get too drunk and get into a fight, but disorderly behavior you don’t stop can lead to problems. In most cases, a third party gets hurt or experiences property damage, and they blame you for not stopping it.
- Food prep problems: This can be food poisoning or something non-food getting into a dish. Either way, people are sick or grossed out, and you’re to blame. This is a less common reason for a lawsuit than you’d imagine, but it can and does happen.
How to Protect Yourself
You can’t prevent all lawsuits, but you can protect yourself as much as possible. The first step is to have solid policies in place that show you’ve thought about patron and employee safety. This helps prevent problems that can lead to lawsuits and also shows a judge or jury that you take the issue seriously.
The other thing to do is make sure you have enough insurance to cover you. While you need several different types of coverage as a bar or restaurant owner, the two that will help in a lawsuit are:
- General liability
- Liquor liability
- Umbrella policy
General liability is what pays for claims of bodily injury or property damage from a patron, vendor, or other third party. It covers you if you’re sued, as well, up to your policy limits. An umbrella policy takes care of you in case your liability claim exceeds your liability policy. It’s important to buy as much general liability coverage as you can afford, and then add an umbrella policy as an extra layer of protection.
Liquor liability covers you specifically in alcohol-related claims. When a patron leaves drunk and gets into an accident, you could be held liable for it. It can also cover you during altercations between inebriated patrons. Because alcohol can lead to so many accidents and problems, the best option is to have as much liability insurance as you can buy.
Ready to check your liability insurance limits or add an umbrella policy? Contact us at Charlotte Insurance today!