Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

Slip and Fall Cases: What Your Business Needs to Know

Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere. Here’s what your business needs to know about slip and fall cases and what to be prepared for in the event of one.

Owning a business means opening yourself up to possible liability. Especially if someone is hurt while at your business’s premises.

A slip and fall at your business can mean an expensive lawsuit. It doesn’t matter if you work at home and a delivery person falls. You’re still liable.

It doesn’t even matter if you rent the space from someone else. If a person injures themselves even slightly, you’re at risk.

But there are ways to protect yourself. Here is the information you need to know about slip and fall cases.

The Premises Liability Law

By owning a business, you assume responsibility for everyone who enters your premises. It doesn’t matter if you rent or own the space.

It also doesn’t matter who the person is. They can be your employee, a visitor, and even someone trespassing. If they’re injured, they have limited protection under the premises liability law.

If you rent, your landlord may also be sued for negligence. However, you’re the one most likely to shoulder the majority of the burden.

Many landlords actually include clauses in their rental agreements requiring their tenants to assume full responsibility for maintaining the safety of the property they’re renting.

Meaning, if they get sued, your business pays for any and all expenses resulting from the lawsuit.

And it’s not only slip and fall cases that fall under the premises liability law. Also included is assaulting someone, merchandise or equipment causing injury, and even hazardous substances that leak into other people’s property.

Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Cases

Proving slip and fall cases aren’t always easy. There’s not one exact way to prove someone is legally responsible.

Each case depends on proving whether or not the property owner took steps to ensure everyone is safe. Then there’s proving whether or not the fall was in any way caused in some way by the injured party not seeing or avoiding the condition that caused their fall.

In most cases, the injured party in slip and fall cases must prove the accident was caused by a dangerous condition. They must also prove that the owner was aware of the dangerous condition.

That same dangerous condition must be shown to present an unreasonable risk to a person on the property. It must also be proven that there was no way for the injured party to anticipate and therefore avoid, the dangerous condition.

How to Prove the Owner Was Aware of Dangerous Conditions

In slip and fall cases, you have to prove that the property owner or possessor knew of a dangerous condition. To show that you have to prove that the owner/possessor created the condition.

You also have to prove they knew the condition existed and took no steps to correct it. Lastly, you have to prove that the condition existed for a certain amount of time where the owner/possessor could have learned about and then fixed the problem before an incident occurred.

In other words, in order to prove liability, it must have been foreseeable that their negligence created a dangerous situation.

How to Protect Yourself from Liability

There are ways that a business owner can protect themselves from slip and fall cases. Here are a few examples.

Inspect your place of business. You and your employees should monitor potentially unsafe conditions. That includes individual workspaces and the entire property.

Being vigilant means you can prevent fix issues before they become a costly problem.

As soon as a potential hazard is discovered or even suspected, fix it. Don’t assume that’s someone else’s job, even if it is.

Clean up spills as you see them. Fix your entryway mat to ensure it’s laying flat. Clear away ice and snow from the walkway.

Establish clear policies and procedures so employees know how to fix potentially dangerous situations. This will also ensure that all your employees understand that workplace safety is a priority.

If unsafe conditions are spotted anywhere that can’t be corrected immediately, have a warning sign available to display. That way, everyone can safely be warned and avoid the hazard until you can fix it.

Consult with an attorney to ensure your business stays safe. If you run into problems DeSalvo slip and fall can help.

Understanding Your Insurance

Many business owners erroneously believe that they’re safe from slip and fall cases because they carry insurance. However, check your policy to make sure it’s included.

You might find your insurance policy has limitations and exclusions that would leave you liable if an accident happened at your place of business.

If you work from home, call your homeowners or renters insurance company to make sure your business is covered.

In most cases, you’ll find out that you are not covered. If that’s the case, ask your insurance company what additional coverage you need.

Don’t forget to check with your local municipality. Sometimes your jurisdiction requires you to carry specific types and minimums of business insurance if you work from home.

Remember that injuries don’t have to be extreme for a serious injury to occur. Even minor slip and fall cases can result in broken bones, brain injuries, severe lacerations, and in some cases, death.

Actress Natasha Richardson looked like she fell slightly while skiing. She was standing up and talking afterward. Unfortunately, her slip and fall caused such traumatic brain injuries, she died soon after.

What Happens if I Do Not Have Insurance?

If you don’t have insurance and you’re a sole proprietor, you and your business are considered one entity.

This means, that when someone sues your business they can also come after your personal assets.

And if you don’t have insurance it doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay anyone.

It just means that if you lose, both you and your business could end up bankrupt.

The Next Steps

Slip and falls are the primary causes for lost days at work. Keep your employees and your business safe by taking the right steps to protect everyone.

Learn how to protect yourself and your business. We can help.

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