Clarity of liability following active-shooter events an unfortunate reality

By Josh Bradford on March 15, 2016
Mass Shootings Word Cloud

Mass Shootings Word Cloud

In the not too distant past, many would have considered an active shooter an exposure that could not be underwritten. But as more experience and general knowledge of these acts are accrued, this sentiment is changing, according to a panel of experts during a recent Advisen webinar on the topic.

The growing feeling is businesses have a moral and legal obligation regarding liability in active-shooter events.

Listen to the webinar: 

Active Shooter Incidents: The Changing Risks and Responsibilities for Organizations

“I think it is becoming more clear there is a lot of money going to be paid as a consequence of these events and it’s going to be incredibly important for the insurance companies, the insureds, and defense attorneys to work really close to make sure we take the best approach forward,” said Dan McGinnis, head of underwriting at CapSpecialty, Inc.

 The definition of an active shooter, however, remains murky. The FBI defines it as three or more people killed while the media generally considers it four or more people.

 The difference between an active shooter, workplace violence, and terrorism can also be a bit difficult to pin down.

 “For it to be a terrorist act the loose definition by the federal government is someone who acts with political or religious motivation,” explained Bill Gage, security consultant, Parroco Security Integration Group. “Workplace violence is one or more people killed due to an act related specifically to work, and an active shooter is defined as violence occurring in a confined public space.”

But according to John Rahoy, principal, Brown & James, the definition means nothing in a civil litigation. The issue is that someone died, or was injured on someone’s property and whether or not it could have been anticipated.

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Josh is an Editor at Advisen in the Research & Editorial division. He is the lead editor responsible for several of Advisen’s Front Page News editions and he also originates custom research on behalf of Advisen’s largest insurance company clients. Contact Josh at [email protected].