What Should Small Business Owners Know About Premise Liability?

What Should Small Business Owners Know About Premise Liability?

When you run a business, you want to ensure that it’s a safe place for everyone, including yourself and your employees. Premise liability means that you, as a business owner, are responsible for any mishaps and can potentially prevent a lawsuit if you keep up with your building and repair things that need fixing before they become hazardous. 

Here are a few ways to help you understand how best to protect your business and keep it thriving.

1. Believe Everyone Is At Risk

The easiest way to look at your business is that everyone entering the building is at risk for some sort of injury. As you walk through your facility, keep your eyes peeled for anything that might pose a danger. Get other people to walk through it with you. 

With your eyes searching all around your business, you’re bound to find something that could cause a hazard or injury. Once you know what you’re working with, you can take steps to repair it before it becomes a hazard. 

2. Beware of Scams

Some people try to take advantage of well-meaning business owners and homeowners by staging accidents and then claiming a payout for their injuries. The most common type of scam is the “slip and fall,” where a person will fall down after slipping or stepping on something that would be a hazard on your floors. While some slip and fall incidents are real, many are scams. Almost 80% of slip and fall claims target businesses, which means you need to secure every area of your building and make it as fall-proof as possible.

The good news is that these scams are very basic and easily recognizable, particularly if a slipping hazard appears out of nowhere. Still, ensure you have cameras in your place of business and routinely document what areas look like. Cameras can help you see all sides of something and potentially help you avoid paying high fees for something that wasn’t your fault. Taking care of your business can help potentially absolve you of premises liability.

3. You Could Be at Risk for a Fight

If two people start fighting in your business, you could be the one that burdens all the blame. You are responsible for what happens on your property, meaning that you must ensure that all areas of your business are accounted for. Many factors determine whether you’ll be responsible for the fight, such as if you had ample security.

One of the most important things to do when an incident occurs is to collect evidence. Document everything that you think pertains to an injury case when it happens, as getting all the facts is vital for both sides of the issue. If you’re worried, you may hire someone to keep track of the store or assist anyone who may look upset or angry.

4. Hazardous Material Can Be a Hazard

Make sure that anything that could be considered hazardous in your business is put away and taken care of. Dangerous materials could be anything from products on the ground to spilled liquid that could leave someone injured. 

Even if it’s not necessarily a toxic material, it can still be considered hazardous. Consider doing a frequent sweep around your building to ensure nothing could be used to injure someone and that all spills and accidents are cleaned up as soon as they’re made.

5. Premises Liability Insurance Covers You

All businesses should have insurance, no matter how small or large. Just because you think you can handle a lawsuit doesn’t mean that you can, just as you can’t guarantee that you’ll never receive a lawsuit. 

The type of policy and amount of coverage your business needs depends on what you offer and where mishaps can happen, and an insurance lawyer can help you determine what’s right for your business. Remember that insurance is one of the most important decisions you can make for your business — what you choose to do is up to you.

Shield Your Business From Any Mishaps

Premise liability leaves you open to a lot of lawsuits if something small is wrong with your business. You may experience things you didn’t plan for, and it’s always a good idea to have insurance and contingency plans to put into play if something goes awry. 

Overall, you don’t need to be worried about everything that happens in your business. Just prepare yourself in case anything does, and you’ll be able to safeguard yourself, your employees and your livelihood.

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Martin Banks grew up outside of Chicago and covers all things small-business related, as well as the world’s best hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks

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