When Are Business Owners Not at Fault for a Slip and Fall?
A business owner may have legal liability for a slip and fall accident. Determining when a business owner is at fault for a slip and fall depends on the specific facts of the case. Business owners have a duty to keep their property safe.
When a slip and fall accident can be traced to the negligence of the business owner, the business has legal fault. However, business owners aren’t always on the hook. How do you know if a business owner has legal fault for a slip and fall accident? Our Las Vegas slip and fall accident lawyers explain.
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When Are Business Owners Not Liable for a Slip and Fall?
Business owners are not liable for a slip and fall when the business owner takes all of the appropriate actions to prevent an accident. The owner is legally responsible when the accident occurs because of negligence. The standard is whether the business owner takes enough action to uncover and remedy dangers before they have the chance to cause harm.
When a slip and fall occurs, it may or may not be because of negligence on the part of the business owner. Business owners are not at fault for a slip and fall when they carry out reasonable steps to prevent harm.
Business Owner No Liability for Slip and Fall
A business owner has no liability for a slip and fall when their actions are reasonable to prevent harm. A business is not an insurer for all accidents that happen to customers. There is no liability for a slip and fall when the business owner examines the property and fixes dangers within a reasonable time period.
In each case, it comes down to the facts and the actions of the business owner. While the standard is very high for the business owner, they have no liability for a slip and fall if they take sufficient action to prevent it.
Circumstances Where a Business Owner Is Not Liable for a Slip and Fall
Here are five circumstances where a business owner is not liable for a slip and fall:
1. When There Is No Negligent Condition on the Property
Some accidents are genuinely just accidents. If a slip and fall accident occurs because someone trips, the business isn’t liable for that. When there is no crack in the sidewalk, no wet floor, and no spilled produce, a slip and fall really can be an accident. The parties must thoroughly investigate the facts of everything that occurred. For the business to be liable, there should be some reason that the slip and fall occurs that the business could have prevented.
The cause of the accident should be an unreasonable danger that the business owner could have prevented. Some dangers are a quick fix, like an item for sale that falls off the shelf, or spilled milk in an aisle. Other dangers can be more inherent in the building like automatic doors that close too quickly or a crack in the sidewalk. There is no business liability for a slip and fall when there is no negligent condition on the property.
2. When the Business Owner Reasonably Inspected the Property to Remedy the Dangers
A business owner does not have strict liability for any danger on their property. Instead, the business owner has a reasonable amount of time to inspect the property and remedy potential dangers. For example, say Roberta owns a grocery store. An employee stacks tomatoes on a display. Later, a shopper grabs a tomato from the stack. In the process, two other tomatoes fall off the display and onto the ground. Five minutes later, another shopper comes along and slips on the tomatoes, causing injury.
In that scenario, the store owner is probably not legally liable for the slip and fall. The whole chain of events happened too fast for Roberta to have time to inspect the property, find the dangerous tomatoes, and remove them from the floor. However, if the slip and fall occurs two hours after the tomato falls on the floor, it’s more likely that the business owner had plenty of time to inspect the property and find the danger. Whether the business owner should have had enough time to inspect and clean the property comes down to the opinion of the jury.
3. If There Are No Damages
The business owner has no liability for a slip and fall when there are no damages. In other words, the victim must be injured by the fall. As scary as a slip and fall accident is, the legal liability is in the harm that occurs. A legal case is not a windfall for a victim; instead, it’s compensation to the victim for their reasonable damages. If there are no damages, the business owner is not liable for the slip and fall.
4. Cases Where the Negligent Condition Doesn’t Cause the Damages
To have business legal liability, there must be causation between the negligent condition and the damages. In other words, if there’s a crack in the sidewalk outside, but the slip and fall occurs inside in the paper aisle, there’s no legal liability based on the dangerous condition of the sidewalk. Legal liability occurs when a negligent condition causes the slip and fall. Just the dangerous condition alone is not enough to create legal liability for the business owner. There is no legal liability where a dangerous condition doesn’t cause any harm.
5. When There Are Intervening Causes
Usually, there are multiple people at a business at any given time. Other customers can create dangerous conditions. For example, a driver may back out when there is other traffic in the parking lot. The business owner might be liable for the way they structured the parking lot. However, the driver that backs into traffic is almost certainly responsible. Intervening causes may reduce the business owner’s legal liability or negate it completely.
Attorneys for Slip and Fall Accidents
Do you have questions about business owner liability for slip and fall accidents? Let our attorneys answer your questions and evaluate your case. Call us today for a confidential consultation about your case.
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