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Business owners may be liable for viruses, pathogens

Those in New York following coverage of the coronavirus may be concerned about how the virus may affect businesses. The city of Wuhan, China, is on lockdown, and many businesses are no longer allowed to operate to prevent the virus from spreading. Though the virus isn't considered to be a big threat yet in the United States, businesses may want to be prepared should a viral illness spread in the country.

Businesses that may be required to shut down for a period of time will lose money during the period. Obtaining Business Interruption insurance and Contingent Business Interruption insurance can help cover these losses. These two types of insurance cover both contamination of the property by a pathogen and monetary losses that result from supply chain disruptions due to a pathogen.

Business owners should also check over their liability insurance. Civil suits may be filed against a property owner should they fail to protect employees and customers from being exposed to a virus or pathogen. Some policies don't cover bacteria or pollutants; though a virus is neither, it's important to select a policy that covers as much as possible to protect a business owner against pathogen threats.

Premises liability means that business or property owners have the legal responsibility to ensure their premises is safe for those who are on the property. This includes protecting them from exposure to viruses. If a property owner doesn't take the proper steps and a customer or employee becomes ill, a civil suit may be filed to recover medical and compensatory damages. For example, a grocery store might not give an employee with measles time off of work. The worker may come into work with an active case of measles, spreading the illness to fellow employees and customers who are there. Those who become ill may be able to file a civil suit against the business owner.

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