Owning a business is seen by many as the fulfillment of the American dream. With ownership comes responsibility, and as a business owner you are obligated to exercise due diligence in maintaining reasonably safe conditions at your property.
The legal concept of this practice is known as “premises liability.”
“A property owner has the duty to maintain property in a reasonably safe condition owed to ‘invitees ‘(customers, friends, relatives, neighbors), who have the landowner’s express or implied permission to enter the property,” explains Greg King, King Law Managing Shareholder.
Among the numerous aspects involved in maintaining safe conditions at your place of business are:
• Adequate lighting inside and outside
• Clearly marked exits and entrances, including handicapped
• Prompt clean-up of any water/liquids on the floor
• Use of railings, grip materials, etc.
• Maintenance of structures, including walkways, curbs, sidewalks
• Removal of debris (leaves, ice, etc.) from areas where customers have access
One of the leading causes of accident injuries are “slip and fall” incidents resulting in 8 million emergency room visits annually.
“Falls caused by unsafe conditions are the most common kind of premises claim,” says King, adding that falls are caused almost equally by “trips” and “slips.”
In the event of a lawsuit due to an injury, the business owner may be held liable if it is determined that they failed to keep the property safe enough to avoid dangerous conditions that resulted in the injury.
King relates the case of a young client who was born premature with a form of cerebral palsy after her mother fell on a wet bathroom floor in a local restaurant.
“Even though the defendant denied the fall caused the premature birth resulting in the cerebral palsy, and filed bankruptcy, we secured a substantial settlement for the child from the restaurant’s insurance carrier,” King notes.
The old proverb says: “Better safe than sorry.” If you are a business owner, let this serve as a reminder to routinely inspect every part of your property where invitees have access and immediately resolve any issues that could cause unsafe conditions.
On the other hand, should you, as an invitee, sustain an injury at a place of business, King advises that you go immediately to a doctor or emergency room for medical evaluation and care.
King Law Firm › 2156 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, FL › (352) 629-8747 › www.kinglawfirm.org