Business owners often fall prey to individuals who are looking for reasons to file lawsuits and recover damages. Even if the business is not liable, defending these types of allegations are costly and time-consuming. Slip and falls accidents are some of the more common types of lawsuits and claims filed against businesses. Following are a few suggestions of things business owners should look out for and do to reduce or eliminate liability in slip and fall cases.
What Can Business Owners Do to Prevent Slip and Fall at Their Property?
Business owners owe a duty of care to all persons who visit their property. This duty includes proper inspection, repairs, warn and take precautions. While some this may create expense, these expenses are minimal when compared to expenses of a lawsuit and a damages judgment.
Make sure to inspect the property on a consistent basis. Look for potential hazards on the property and make the necessary repairs to fix the the issue. Also, remove any obstructions which may cause people to trip and fall. If there is a problem that cannot be repaired, make sure to provide sufficient notice and warning of the problem (e.g., warning signs). Be sure to educate your staff about the need to maintain the property and remove hazards.
Make sure your property is equipped with equipment to prevent slips and falls. Examples include hand rails, non-slip rugs and surfaces, proper lighting, etc.
If you do not already have a procedure for responding to accidents on the property, prepare a detailed procedure and educate your staff about the procedure. This procedure should include a method of documenting the accident, such as an incident report form.
As protection against slip and fall accidents, all business owners should maintain insurance policies which cover these types of situations. Make sure the insurance policy covers the types of accidents which may be common or foreseeable in your type of business.
Is It Possible to Not Be at Fault If You Took the Necessary Precautions?
If you take the proper precautions it is completely possible to be without fault in a trip and fall case. Business owners owe only a reasonable duty of care. In cases where a reasonable duty of care has been demonstrated through use the necessary precautions, a visitor will have difficulty recover damages.
What are things a business owner can look out for if they suspect a slip and fall is fake?
While each situation is different, there are some things business owners can look out for when they suspect a slip and fall is fake or exaggerated. Here are some tips of things to look for:
- Is there a visible injury?
- Does the person immediately threaten a lawsuit?
- Is the person a frequent visitor?
- Did the person bring up payment for their injuries?
- Does the person have a history of lawsuits?
- How is their general health and physical stature?
Slip and fall fraud is becoming increasingly more common. Many have learned that insurance companies and business owners are quick to pay out settlements, due to the potential for large expenses of litigation. Looking for signs of potential fraud and documenting these signs can help decrease the chances of success when a fraudulent claim is made.
What Should Business Owners Do When There is a Slip and Fall?
If a slip and fall occurs, document the incident as much as possible. Here are some tips:
If your business has surveillance video, make sure to preserve the video recording.
Photograph the accident scene
Complete an incident report that describes the details of the accident
Record any witness statement
Obtain contact information for anyone who observed the fall
Immediately contact your insurance provider to report the accident
Contact medical assistance for the injured person
When Should a Business Owner Call a Lawyer?
Any business owner who sees the potential for slip and fall claims occurring on their property should contact a slip and fall lawyer to learn more about ways to protect against financially crippling lawsuits. If a slip and falls has already occurred, business owners should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, even if there does not appear to be an immediate threat of a lawsuit. An experienced attorney will be able to protect your interests and provide legal advice about what steps you should take.