3 Things New Business Owners Need to Know About Premises Liability
Businesses have a responsibility to keep their customers safe, and if a slip and fall happens in your business, you risk being a target of a premises liability lawsuit. A slip-and-fall accident isn’t the only risk that a business faces.
Businesses take on a liability just by opening their doors.
A few of the things all business owners should know about premises liability, are:
1. Landlords Waive Their Liability
If you’re renting a building and someone falls on the sidewalk that is part of the business, your landlord is not responsible. Landlords will have a clause in their leases or rental agreements stating that all tenants are fully responsible for maintaining a safe property.
Landlords will not assume the risk for your business.
2. Slips and Falls Are Not Your Only Concern
Slips and falls may be most common in premises liability, but there are a lot of other incidents that can fall under premises liability:
- Hazardous material running off the property
- Merchandise falling on a customer
- Assault from an employee
- Equipment causing injury
These incidents will also fall under premises liability, and as an owner, it’s your duty to make sure that everyone that enters your premises is safe. Failure to fix a broken step or improper stacking of merchandise can be seen as negligence if an injury does occur.
3. Burden of Proof is on the Customer
The customer has the burden of proof. What this means is that the customer must show that the condition was one that the owner was aware existed. For example, if a ceiling fan had been reported as being loose and fall on the customer, the owner of the business knew the threat existed.
Dangerous conditions, that the owner is aware of, must be corrected to keep visitors safe.
Signage is often seen in grocery stores and fitness centers when the floor is wet. What this signage does is alert the consumer of the risk and alleviate the owner of responsibility. The owner, in this instance, is acknowledging that there is a potential risk of slipping and falling, so the customer should read the sign and avoid the area.
But enough time must have passed to also allow the owner to correct the problem.
If a stair railing just broke and was reported to the owner five minutes before an injury occurred, the owner may not have had enough time to correct the issue. Customers also have a responsibility to not be careless and avoid conditions that may cause an accident.
Business owners can help alleviate their risk of a liability lawsuit by taking steps to prevent safety issues and accidents. A few of the steps that can be taken include:
- Inspect the premises for unsafe conditions often.
- Correct any unsafe conditions as soon as possible, and create policies for employees to follow.
- Warn customers of unsafe conditions with signage or other measures.
If you take the appropriate steps to make your premises safe, you’ll be better equipped to avoid potential lawsuits and keep customers from being injured.