Small business owners can be held liable for actions that they did not cause. For example, a small business may be sued when a patron enters their establishment and falls. The business owner may not have realized or known that the lighting was poor, the carpet on the stairs came loose or even that rain or ice is making sidewalks dangerous for guests.
Slip and fall accidents are the most common in a business setting.
What is a Slip and Fall in Legal Terms?
Slip and fall accidents are common in personal injury cases, and they fall under the broader “premises liability” definition. Slips and falls occur on premises, and these accidents can occur by:
- Tripping on a cracked sidewalk
- Falling down stairs
- Slipping on carpeting
- Falling on a wet floor
Any time someone is injured on a business’s premises, the business may be held liable. But with each case, one factor must be proven: determining if the owner could have prevented the incident from occurring.
If the owner neglected to fix a broken sidewalk, the court may find the owner negligent in their duties.
“Generally, a property owner is responsible for making sure his/her property is safe from known risks of harm or injury to other people on the property. If a property owner is aware of hazardous conditions on the property that can cause injury, and does nothing to fix them, he/she may face liability for personal injuries in a civil lawsuit,” claims Gassman Legal.
Product defects that lead to injuries may include a small business owner. If you sell a product or good, there’s a chance of product liability. This may mean a product that you manufacture or sell.
The entire supply chain may be held liable in a product liability claim.
For example, you may sell the good, but the defect was found on the engineering level. This may hold your business, the manufacturer and even the engineer of the product liable. It’s a very complicated chain of possible liabilities, but it does exist in product liability cases.
One area of liability is that of customer data. A business has a duty to protect their customer’s data. If the data is not protected, the business may be held liable for the data breach. This may not lead to fines or penalties, depending on the level of negligence that occurred.
But it may mean that the business’s reputation is severely damaged in the process.
Data breaches are highly publicized on news outlets and in social media, so it’s an event that will cause substantial damage to a business’s operations.
An employer can be held liable for the actions of their employees. When work-related accidents occur, the responsibility may be that of the employer if it’s found that the employer created an unsafe work environment.
Harassment or other employee acts may also cause the owner to be liable.
But if the owner took quick action against these complaints, it’s possible that the business proved that they did all within their power to stop the employee’s actions.