From the day your business opened, you have probably worked hard to ensure its success. You train your employees well, keep careful records, and maintain a clean and organized establishment. Nevertheless, you may have seen the life of your business flash before your eyes when you saw a customer lying on the floor.
Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents are among the most common premises liability lawsuits business owners face. If you have a procedure in place for dealing with spills and other hazards as quickly as possible, you are less likely to face the consequences of such a lawsuit. However, even the most diligent business owners cannot ignore the possibility that someone will be injured on their properties.
When is my business liable?
In order for a customer, vendor or other injured individual to successfully present a premises liability case against you, the person must prove that you did three things:
- Knew about the hazard
- Did nothing to correct the hazard
- Allowed the hazard to cause injury
Slip-and-fall accidents can occur from a spill, a torn carpet, a slippery parking lot or other factors. However, an accidental fall is only one way in which a customer can suffer injury on your business's property. Injuries may occur from any of the following:
- Customers tripping in cluttered aisles
- Merchandise falling from high shelves
- Low-hanging signs or shelving
- Building code violations
- Assaults by employees or others
While you likely have insurance to cover the liability, in the event the Louisiana court awards a substantial judgement in favor of the injured customer, the harsh reality is that your business may be in financial jeopardy.
Help for your business
Not every premises liability claim means you will face a steep payout. In fact, it is not out of the question for people to fabricate injuries in an attempt to win a settlement from a worried business owner. However, even legitimate injuries may not be entirely your fault. It will be important to determine if the customer's own carelessness contributed to the injury.
To protect your business, you will certainly want to obtain sound advice and aggressive legal representation. An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the claim against your business and determine if it has merit or if there are mitigating circumstances. An attorney with a reputation for success defending businesses against premises liability claims can advocate on your behalf.