When you first hired your employees, you were excited and ready to get the team together. They all interviewed well and seemed like a genuinely kind and hardworking bunch. For the most part, they are. There are just a couple staff members who seem to have it out for each other, and you’re really not sure why. Their constant bickering and passive-aggressive behavior seems to be escalating, and despite discussing with them the importance of professionalism, they continue to go after each other. Then one day, all the snide comments and spiteful stares escalate into a physical altercation.
With the three of you sitting in the ER, (you in between them as a buffer) you wonder: is my general liability insurance going to cover this?
The Workplace Incident
You had originally purchased a general liability insurance plan in case of injury sustained to an employee or customer through equipment malfunction or user accident. Visiting the ER on your lunch break with two injured, pouting adults and using your general liability insurance after a fist fight was not what you had in mind when you purchased the policy.
General liability insurance pays for the medical expenses of someone (employee or customer) hurt on your business’s premises. It also covers property damage and pays for your legal fees should a customer or employee take you to court for negligence. Usually these situations include a mechanical malfunction of equipment or questionable advice giving. What is not listed as a covered situation are your grown adult employees coming to blows with each other. So the question is: will your insurance cover the medical costs of this altercation? The answer is (usually) yes.
As your employees were hurt at work and on the property during working hours, the resulting injuries of their skirmish are technically covered under your policy. Your employees could possibly even decide to sue you for not managing the workplace environment more smoothly. They could argue that you allowed for workplace arguments to take place, and that this last argument escalated into something physical. Because you did not prevent the argument(s) from happening, you in effect created a hostile working environment. This is when a general liability insurance package comes in and saves you and your company from financially going under.
However, there is a caveat that goes along with trying to make a claim for a workplace skirmish: your agent can deny your claim because it was a skirmish and not (again, technically) a work-related injury. Both employees willingly engaged in the altercation and were willing to sustain injury to inflict pain upon the other party. Because the injuries were not due to equipment failure or poor property safety, your insurance agency can claim it was 100 percent the fault of your employees and that they can pay for their own ER visit.
After all is said and done, the bills paid and the insurance claim made, it’s time to rethink your staffing situation. Terminate the existing hiring contracts with the two who openly fought in the workplace, and learn conflict resolution. Your remaining staff will thank you for it. Learn more about general liability insurance with CoverHound today.