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Broken Windows at Your Business: What Are Your Legal Options?

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on October 30, 2014 3:51 PM

Depending on the size and location of your business, you may have a few windows on the front of your building or hundreds of windows looking out on all sides.

In either case, broken windows at your business can require costly repairs and will likely need to be boarded up in the meantime -- not exactly the look most business owners are going for. Some business owners on Virginia's Eastern Shore are learning this first-hand after the catastrophic explosion of a NASA rocket shattered the windows of several businesses, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Whether it's a sudden explosion or criminal vandalism that shattered your windows, what legal options do business owners have to make repairs? Here are a few you may want to consider:

  • File an insurance claim. The most common method for dealing with property damage is through an insurance claim. Property owners can purchase general property insurance to cover potential damage to their property. Business owners can also purchase glass insurance policies, specifically to repair or replace their business' windows.
  • Call the police. If the windows were broken by an act of vandalism, business owners will probably want to report the damage to police. Beyond bringing those responsible to justice, business owners may also seek restitution from a person convicted of vandalism. Restitution is a payment made by the perpetrator of a crime to the victim or victims of that crime. In the case of broken windows, a vandal may be ordered to pay restitution in the amount required to repair or replace windows that he or she may have damaged.
  • File a lawsuit. When another person's intentional or negligent conduct leads to broken windows at a business, business owners may also pursue a civil lawsuit against the person or persons responsible. In cases such as the Virginia rocket explosion, a legal doctrine called res ipsa loquitur may be applicable. Res ipsa loquitur presumes negligence in cases where an event does not normally occur without someone's negligence (like an explosion), and that the harm was caused by something in that person's exclusive control.

For more legal tips that small business owners can use, head over to FindLaw's section on Small Business Law.

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