Any type of lawsuit can pose a serious threat to the livelihood of your business, but those dealing with cases of liability can be especially costly. Slip and fall accidents are a rather common lawsuit that businessowners face. Regardless of who is at fault for the injury, defending any lawsuit can cost you valuable time and money.
Luckily, there are a few easy ways to mitigate the threat of slip and fall accidents on your property:
Obtain Adequate Business Insurance
By obtaining the proper type and amount of businessowners insurance, you can protect your business. No matter how hard you try to provide a safe environment for customers and employees, slip and fall accidents can and do happen.
A comprehensive general liability policy will help to defend your business in court and pay for any damages awarded against you up to your policy limits in a slip and fall case. You’ll also want to have an appropriate workers’ compensation policy in place to protect yourself from employee injuries and damages. Make sure you speak with your local Rockford Mutual Insurance Expert to ensure your policy is adequate to cover any potential damages assessed against your business.
Exercise Small Business Owners Duty of Care
Second to insurance, making sure your property is well-maintained is vital in shielding yourself from a slip and fall liability. Some maintenance/tasks might seem harmless, but leave no key unturned when it comes to any potential hazards on your property. Make routine checks to make sure your property is in safe condition for customers and employees.
As a businessowner you understand one of your obligations to any person who is on your property is to exhibit your legal duty of care. Legal duty of care is defined as:
n. a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would use. If a person's actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent, and any damages resulting may be claimed in a lawsuit for negligence
In most states, businessowners have a duty to inspect, make repairs, or warn (when repairs aren’t possible) regarding any hazardous or dangerous condition on the property. If an injury occurs and you knew or should have known about the condition, a slip and fall liability can apply. By maintaining your place of business and keeping it safe you can protect your investment:
Internal & External Maintenance
While every business is unique and requires different kinds of maintenance, there are a few general maintenance tasks that apply to nearly every type of business:
- Keep your parking area free from debris.
- Ensure cracks or imperfections in cement or blacktop are promptly patched or clearly marked so customers are clearly aware of the hazard.
- Clear your lot and walkways of snow, ice, water or any other natural accumulations. If removing snow, be sure to lay salt to further reduce the potential for a slip and fall accident.
- Interior hallways and walkways should be clear of debris and potential trip hazards.
- Cords, wires, boxes and furniture should not block walking paths.
- Furniture should be in good condition.
- Carpets and floor mats should be checked regularly to ensure they don’t come loose or bunch up.
- Liquids on the floor of your business should be cleaned or clearly marked immediately. Liquids on the floor is one of the leading causes of slip and fall accidents. The liquid could be from a spilled cup of coffee or a leaking toilet, always monitor these conditions.
Overall - insurance, prevention, maintenance and documentation are the best ways to safeguard your business from slip and fall accidents. Create both interior and exterior maintenance checklists, inspect your property regularly and document all inspections and repairs.