Knowing the Law Can Help Employers with Personal Injury Claims

From the employer's side, personal injury claims happen all the time. A customer comes into your store or place of business, trips, and the next thing you know, a claim is filed and medical bills are produced for payment. It's fairly commonplace, and that's what insurance is for, right?

If you know the law and the basics of insurance coverage, you may not have to worry. In Menard, Inc. v. Country Preferred Insurance Company, 2013 IL App (3d) 120340, the Illinois Appellate Court held that Menards was entitled to coverage under its customer's personal automobile policy for the personal injury claims the customer suffered while her car was being loaded at the Menards loading dock.

In this case, the customer visited a local Menards to buy bricks. While her car was being loaded by the Menards employee, the customer's foot became tangled in debris on the loading dock and she fell. She sued Menards for negligence in maintaining safe premises.

This is where knowing how insurance coverage works helped out the company. Enter the coverage lawyer who knows that all auto policies include coverage for accidents "resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of an insured vehicle, including loading and unloading." All auto policies also include omnibus insured coverage for "anyone using an insured vehicle with permission."

Basically, Menards directed the customer's suit to the customer's auto insurer where the coverage was, and the court found that the accident was causally connected to the use of the vehicle, so Menard's insurance provision didn't apply, and Menards was defended by the customer's own auto policy. Was this defense above board and legal? Of course it was. From the company's perspective this saved them from paying out on the suit and those of this type that occur on their premises daily. And then they can pass on the savings to their customers, right? Let's hope so.

Retrieved from: "Big box retailer piggybacks on customer's personal auto policy" in a Blog by Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, 7/23/2013

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