The nationwide debate over gun control in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre has raised a number of issues — including potential insurance liability for businesses in states that permit citizens to carry concealed weapons. Here’s why:
A company that allows customers or visitors on its premises has a legal obligation to exercise “reasonable care” in keeping them safe, a responsibility that includes warning them about any hidden dangerous conditions. For example, in states with “concealed carry” laws, a store owner might need to post warnings that sales clerks are armed.
Let’s say that an employee carrying a concealed weapon negligently or deliberately shoots a customer who is legitimately on the premises of the business — and the customer then sues the employer for bodily injury. On the other hand, suppose that an employer forbids workers from carrying weapons on the job. If an employee is attacked and beaten at work, he or she might sue for damages from bodily injury, claiming that the employer’s ban on firearms in the workplace impaired the employee’s ability for self-defense.
Although your Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy should provide coverage against such claims, it makes sense to minimize this risk by taking pre-emptive action. One effective approach: To seek an exemption from the scope of the concealed-weapon law (if one doesn’t already exist), giving you the authority to forbid weapons in the workplace. Make it clear to all employees and potential employees that company policy forbids bringing weapons onto the premises. You might also conduct comprehensive pre-employment screening to help hire stable, sensible people who are unlikely to settle disagreements with lethal force.
To learn more about protecting your business against the potential problems created by concealed carry laws, feel free to get in touch with us.