How to Safeguard Your Business from Slip and Fall Claims Part 1
Slip and fall torts are one of the most common lawsuits against businesses, large and small. Regardless of the size of the business, the financial repercussions on a business can be disastrous, not to mention the time and money to focus on the claims, lawsuits and added stress.
Good liability coverage will usually take care of the claim, but then you run the risk of seeing increases in the rates. Fighting a lawsuit takes time and money, and plaintiffs win slip and fall lawsuits over 50 per cent of the time. Even worse, staged slip and fall “accidents” are all too common, and often hard to catch or prove otherwise.
What to do? The savvy business owner will take a two-prong approach: make an all-out effort to avoid genuine slip and fall hazards, and take steps to protect against staged incidents by using detailed documentation and security video.
Preventing Slip and Fall Hazards
A key building block of a slip and fall lawsuit is to show or prove that the business owner knew or should have known that the hazard existed. So a business owner must be vigilant in inspecting their property, inside and out, for places that a customer could potentially slip or trip.
● Exterior and employee-only areas should be inspected once or twice a week for potential hazards. Have high-visibility “blockers” like cones, warning signs, and plastic tape on hand so that a hazard can be cordoned off until it can be fixed.
● If the business is leasing the location, notify the property manager of hazards that are the property owner’s responsibility, such as cracked or broken pavement. Make the notification in writing, and follow up with additional requests. Keep copies of all letters and emails, and if the owner or management is unresponsive, send at least one request via certified mail with return receipt. This creates a paper trail that shows that the business owner was diligent in doing his or her part to get the hazard fixed.
● Stay alert for seasons and situations when additional hazards can appear, such as when acorns and nuts are falling from trees, or snow and ice is present. Adjust cleaning routines to keep the customer routes in and out of the store as clear as possible.
● Watch for worn carpeting, thresholds, floor mats and other items that can become unsafe over time. Repair and replace promptly.
● Have a regular daily cleaning routine with documented steps, including a log where the times of cleaning are noted and initialed. If an incident does occur, preserve copies of the log page and security video that proves that the location was cleaned regularly and recently.
All in all, having a well kept and safe premises is not only best for your employees but also for those who shop or frequent your place of business. You will want to take every precaution necessary to prove that you are doing everything you can to keep your work environment safe for everyone.
Don’t forget to check back for Part 2 (beginning of February) of our blog in regards to fraudulent slip and fall claims.
Should you have any questions about the above or would like to consult about a possible incident at your business, please contact Griffis Law Firm at (832) 284-4013. We are conveniently located in the Houston area on Bay Area Blvd. We look forward to helping you and your business safeguard against negligent or personal injury claims.