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Slips and falls and a business owner’s liability

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Posted on July 28, 2021

As a business owner, you wear lots of hats. If you own a place of business that has regular clients, customers or guests, you have a responsibility to keep them safe to the best of your abilities.

Slips and falls are one of the most common risks when it comes to liability, and many of these accidents are preventable. If someone does get injured from a fall on your premises, liability may fall on you, the customer or both.

Preventable actions

According to the Insurance Information Institute, each year, thousands of people receive injuries from slips and falls in businesses. One of the best ways to prevent these incidents is to perform regular inspections of the property and fix any potential issues right away. Common risk prevention strategies include:

  • Wiping up spills and putting up warning signs
  • Fixing rugs and carpets to prevent trips
  • Providing adequate and working lighting
  • Fixing broken stairs and railings
  • Removing snow and ice from the parking lot and walkways

Parties potentially responsible for injuries

In the event a customer does fall, employees or a manager should call for medical help right away and help the individual, as this tends to reduce the chances of him or her taking legal action. If the person does sue, FindLaw discusses that the owner may be at fault if the injured party can prove negligence. This occurs if the owner caused the situation, knew about the hazard and did nothing to fix it or should have known about the dangerous situation and did nothing about it.

The courts also acknowledge that sometimes accidents do happen. If a customer was not paying attention or was careless, the judge usually determines that the owner is not at fault. At times, both parties played a part. For example, if there was a hazard and the customer did not take reasonable steps to avoid it, the judge may award legal damages but reduce the amount due to the customer’s part in the accident.