When you launch a business, general liability insurance might seem an unnecessary expense. But you may soon discover it’s an essential component for every business.
It protects you against risks you didn’t know you would face when you started. For example, if someone gets injured on your property, he or she has a legal right to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim.
Your liability insurance will help to protect you against such claims, but you surely don’t need the hassle of a lawsuit or record of an injury to someone on your conscience. Take the following proactive steps toward prevention of personal injury incidents on your property.
1. Identify Potential Safety Concerns
Run a thorough inspection up front to identify potential liability and safety issues. This may require you to make some updates and improvements to your operation, which could be a challenge if you’re strapped for cash.
If you consider the consequences should someone slip on the premises and break a hip because you hadn’t yet purchased a caution sign for wet floors, however, the potential cost could be much greater.
Inspect the property regularly to avoid dramatic and costly incidents. The trouble you take will be worth every minute you spend on the process.
“Constant vigilance might sound like a productivity killer, but all it really means is being more aware of your surroundings,” Anthony C. Johnson of the Young Entrepreneur Council wrote in a Forbes article. “This way, any potential liabilities can be detected before employees or customers discover them the hard way.”
2. Improve Building Maintenance
Many slip-and-fall mishaps could have been avoided if the organization had stayed on top of proper building maintenance. Buildings descend into disrepair; it’s in the nature of things.
Cleaning and maintenance come with the territory when you own a business. If you don’t keep them up, you might find yourself being held liable for a resulting accident.
When you make maintenance a priority, you may find it difficult to address repairs after hours. If that’s the case, remember that it’s okay to handle some repairs and cleaning during business hours — as long as you place proper signage and take precautions to limit potential accidents.
It’s better to take solve a problem immediately, even if it that poses an inconvenience.
3. Organize Your Office Space
You might presume that the mess around your desk is harmless, but it could actually present a hazard. “The cleaner and more clutter-free a workplace is, the fewer possibilities there are for an accident,” says Alicia Hill of Fundera.
Hill recommends you make sure debris doesn’t pile up and keep boxes on shelves where they won’t create a problem.
It’s also worthwhile to organize a response strategy in the event of an accident. The steps you take immediately following an incident to summon help and record the details of the event can be crucial for reducing your legal liability.
4. Educate Your Employees
You might be personally aware of the potential liabilities connected with various practices in your workplace, but are all of your staff? They’ll be on the floor every day: interacting with and around customers. If they’re ignorant of the potential mishaps, consequences, and correct responses, that could lead big trouble for your firm.
Schedule regular trainings for your employees. Clearly state the reason for addressing proper safety measures.
Some workers tend to ignore safety procedures because they believe the consequences are all but harmless. If you explain the risk of injury and even death if people ignore various safety measures, your subordinates are more likely to comply.
5. Hire a Competent Business Attorney
Although you’ve probably performed suitable due diligence and taken the steps to reduce the likelihood of injury accidents around your office, you can’t utterly prepare for whatever might happen. If an incident occurs on your property, the best thing you can do is have a solid attorney on standby to help you out.
A general business attorney will support your company with regard to most liability-related problems. He or she can help you draft business contracts and recognize potential pitfalls in the operation of your property before they cause a real issue.
“Owners should also attempt to secure an attorney that is familiar with local laws and customs in the area in which the business operates,” Investopedia suggests. The type of attorney you hire will depend on your specific needs.
“Care should also be taken to retain an attorney with expertise in a particular field, if necessary. If your company is anticipating legal challenges from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a state department of taxation, then it makes sense to hire a tax attorney,” the article continues.
Your business attorney can point you in the right direction and refer an attorney who specializes in the field you need. Don’t retain inexperienced counsel to handle your case, because legal errors could put you in much hotter water.