If you are a small business owner, you undoubtedly spend a significant amount of time attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. While part of the equation is offering an in-demand product or service, you must also provide an appealing place for your customers to shop.
Even if you lease your commercial space, you likely have a duty to provide a reasonably safe place for your customers, vendors and others. To a degree, this duty may even extend to trespassers. If someone suffers a catastrophic injury in a slip-and-fall accident at your shop, you may become a defendant in a premises liability lawsuit.
How do premises liability lawsuits unfold?
While it is possible for plaintiffs to sue shopowners for intentional torts, such as assault, many premises liability claims stem from ordinary negligence. To prove a negligence claim, plaintiffs must prove each of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The shopowner owed a duty to the plaintiff
- The shopowner breached the duty
- The breach was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff suffered harm
How do shopowners protect themselves?
An effective approach for avoiding a slip-and-fall lawsuit is to keep your shop as safe as possible. The following strategies may minimize your legal exposure:
- Regularly inspect your shop for slip-and-fall hazards
- Repair damaged flooring and clean up spilled liquids
- Post warning signs and cordon off hazardous areas
- Close your shop after disastrous events until you make repairs
While you may not be able to foresee all possible slip-and-fall risks, you can probably improve the safety of your store. Ultimately, the steps you take to keep customers safe are likely to help you avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation.