Safety Responsibilities of a Business Owner
Property owners, and business owners in particular, have a significant legal responsibility to meet certain expectations when it comes to keeping visitors safe. When property owners fail to fulfill these duties, they can be held legally and financially liable for their negligence. If you were injured on someone else’s property as a result of the owner’s failure to provide adequate safety measures, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced premises liability attorney who can help you seek compensation for your losses.
Slip and Fall Accidents
One of the most common types of property-related accidents in which visitors are involved, is the slip and fall accident. Slip and fall accidents, as their name suggests, occur when a visitor either slips or trips and then falls while visiting someone else’s property. While in some cases, these accidents can be attributed to the negligence or poor health of the visitor, in others, they can be affirmatively linked to a business owner’s negligence in failing to:
- Clean up spills;
- Repair torn or loose carpeting;
- Ensure that flooring is even and free of tripping hazards;
- Place handrails on staircases;
- Remove debris and trash from walkways and aisles;
- Ensure that merchandise is placed in safe positions;
- Provide adequate lighting throughout the premises and in any parking lots; and
- Remove ice and snow from sidewalks, parking lots, and entryways.
The injuries sustained in accidents caused by these types of defects range from minor scrapes and bruises to torn ligaments and broken bones.
When it comes to spills, property owners have a responsibility to clean them up quickly and then to visibly mark the wet area until it is safe to walk on. They should also mark all steps and curbs so that they are clearly visible to visitors and ensure that aisles and walkways are clear of obstacles, including merchandise. Cracked plaster ceilings, broken glass windows, loose carpeting, and uneven or sloping flooring should also be addressed as soon as they are discovered.
Slip and fall accidents are not the only possible dangers faced by a business’s patrons, who may also be at risk of assault or theft. For this reason, property owners are obligated to ensure that their premises are safe and secure. Depending on the location of the business, this could mean that a property owner will be expected to provide extra lighting in stairwells and parking lots and to install security cameras in areas where crimes have occurred in the past. Property owners who are aware that their business is located in high crime area could be held liable if a victim is assaulted or robbed and they took none of these preventive measures.
Business owners can also be held responsible for the actions of their employees if those employees injure a customer, whether accidentally or intentionally, while fulfilling job duties and there is evidence that:
- The employee was unqualified for the position;
- The employer failed to provide adequate training to its employees;
- The employee had a violent or criminal history that was overlooked or ignored by the employer; or
- Similar accidents had occurred in the past, but the employer still failed to take precautionary measures.
In these cases, property owners could be held at least partially liable for an accident that occurred on their premises.