If you are a small business owner then you have plenty to worry about, including ensuring that your clients are satisfied, double checking that your inventory is well stocked, and making sure that your suppliers can be relied on. One thing that you may have overlooked but which could make a big difference to your business’s bottom line is a slip and fall accident.
As a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your business is safe for any visitors, including customers and employees. If you fail to provide a safe space and a person slips and falls then you could be held liable and the cost to your business could be extremely high.
Slip and fall accidents fall under an area of the law referred to as premises liability, which basically means that businesses must do everything they reasonably can to ensure that visitors are kept safe on their premises. In terms of slip and fall accidents this means making sure that passages and entryways are kept clear, snow and ice are cleared away, spills are cleaned up, and potential tripping hazards are removed or repaired. Of course, you shouldn’t feel paranoid about every accident that happens on your property.
A customer who walks into a door, for example, because he was texting and wasn’t paying attention generally can’t sue you because that sort of accident is clearly his fault. You should just ensure that your property is as safe as possible for everybody that uses it, yourself included.
If your business is facing the prospect of litigation related to a slip and fall accident then you should contact specialists like Brown and Crouppen to learn more.
How to prove liability
When it comes to slip and fall accidents one of three conditions generally need to be proven to show that a business was negligent and therefore at least partially responsible for a person’s injury. These three conditions are:
- When the business creates a condition that could result in a slip and fall accident, such as putting stock and supplies near the entrance where they could trip up a customer;
- When the business is aware that a slip and fall risk exists but fails to address it, which would be the case if, say, there was a spill at a grocery store and nobody bothered to clean it up; or
- The risk existed for a long time and the business owner should have known it existed and should have taken steps to correct it but didn’t.
This third one is commonly used in slip and fall cases, although it is also the most difficult one of the three to prove. It essentially means that a business owner cannot claim ignorance of a slip and fall risk on his or her property that he or she should have known about. For example, if there is a hole in a store’s carpet that causes a customer to trip, the business owner cannot claim that he or she was unaware of the hole, especially if there is evidence (such as photographs, video surveillance, and witnesses) showing that the damage in the carpet existed for some time.
Knowing how liability is proven can help you make sure you remove potential risks sooner.
Consider getting insurance
If you are worried about the cost that a slip and fall accident could have on your business then it is a good idea to get liability insurance. Such insurance will cover some of the costs that arise in relation to a lawsuit against your business if a customer trips and falls while there.
Without liability insurance you could be forced to pay the expenses out of your own pocket, which can be expensive even if you end up winning your case.
Hazards are about more than ice and water
Finally, a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that slip and fall accidents are only a risk during bad weather, when snow, ice, or rain make surfaces slippery. While it is true that you need to be extra vigilant to keep your business safe during poor weather, it is also true that falls can happen at any time and under any weather conditions.
A poorly lit stairway, for example, is a risk, as is a cracked floor. Uneven surfaces, trash on the floor that is not cleaned up, and other such hazards could also expose you to a lawsuit if they result in an injury.