Are Business Owners Responsible for Burglars Injuries
As a business owner, you know there are risks when it comes to customers and other citizens being on your property should they become injured. You also know that if a criminal comes in your place of business and steals something, your business owners’ insurance policy will step in to replace the items that were stolen. What if the burglar gets injured while on your property?
Unfortunately, this not a situation that is always black and white. The unique circumstances surrounding the theft will determine if you are liable or not for their injuries. Whether the burglar gets hurt by breaking a window, falling off the roof, or injured by you defending your property, you may be liable depending on the laws in your area.
Invitees and licensees versus Trespassers
While the laws may vary in different states, there is a common theme. Let’s take a look at the definitions of invitees and licensees as well as trespassers to help determine if you will be liable for the burglar’s injuries.
As the names suggests, an invitee or licensee is anyone you invite onto your property. This would include customers, friends, family, and contracted workers such as electricians and HVAC contractors. Therefore, if an HVAC contractor has come to install a new system, they decide to steal some of your inventory and strain their back in the process, you could be held liable because they were invited onto your property. It is your job to make sure your property is safe and secure for others.
A burglar who comes onto your property uninvited will be considered a trespasser, and you are therefore not liable if they become injured. An exception to this rule is if there is a repeated trespassing issue and you ignore it. Another is if you engage with the burglar and they become injured as a result (shot, pushed and injured, etc.). Lastly, if there is something on your property that you know can cause injury (slippery floors) and you do not post about it, you could be held liable for any injuries for a trespasser.
Avoiding the Situation
Of course, there are things you can do to prevent this situation from ever occurring and to help ensure that, if you do end up with a claim, the insurance company will not exclude coverage.
2. Post ‘No Trespassing’ signs, or security warning signs, to help ward off intruders.
3. If you catch a burglar in the act, do not engage. Dial 911 and let the authorities handle it.
4. If you notice someone is trespassing more than once, report them right away so you have a written record.
5. Don’t engage in illegal activity or have illegal weapons on your property as this can cause the insurance company to deny a claim.
While it may be a rare occurrence that a burglar gets injured on your property, it is crucial that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Making the right decision in the moment can determine the better outcome and ultimately keep your business running smoothly.