Customer Slip & Fall

Costliness: #7

$20,000

Frequency: #5

10%

Slip and Fall Injuries in Small Businesses

Allowing customers to roam your place of business may be necessary, but it’s also risky. They could slip on wet tile, trip over an upturned rug, or go tumbling down a staircase when a wobbly handrail gives out. And that’s not even mentioning icy sidewalks, loose power cables, and that one step that everyone seems to miss until it’s too late.

When a customer slip-and-fall accident occurs, you can be held responsible. That might mean paying medical expenses, lost wages, or legal costs to defend your business.

Who’s Most at Risk for Customer Slip-and-Fall Injuries?

Retail

Restaurants

Places open to the public

Small Business Insurance Policies to Help Manage Customer Slips and Falls

When it comes to third-party injury lawsuits, only one small business insurance policy may help:

  • General Liability Insurance: General Liability can cover the immediate medical expenses for a customer (or another non-employee) who falls and is injured on your premises. It can also provide means for a legal defense if that customer decides to sue you.
  • Routinely walk the premises to look for hazards – wet floors, uneven surfaces, cracks, etc.

  • Document hazard inspections to keep a record of when a hazard might have appeared.

  • If you find a hazard, place signs and warnings around it to alert visitors until you can have it fixed.

  • Install a camera system that stores video. This can record accidents and help resolve any customer claims.

  • Immediately complete an incident report after a slip-and-fall accident. Record accounts from the victim and eyewitnesses, and photograph any alleged hazards.

  • Report the claim to your insurance company as soon as possible.

  • Follow up with the customer to show that you care about their wellbeing and request that your insurance company follow up, too.

More Details on Customer Slips & Falls

While small business insurance can cover the costs associated with customer slips and falls, it’s easier for everyone if they don’t happen in the first place. Andrew Vines, injury lawyer with Johnson & Vines, PLLC (@JohnsonVinesLaw), says it’s essential to prevent spills and remove them as soon as possible, because legally, small-business owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition.

“Whether this duty has been met usually depends on the length of time the slippery substance was present in an area of customer foot traffic,” Vines says. “The longer the substance is on the floor, the more likely it is that the owner will be found negligent in failing to remove it.”

Follow up and show concern to customers injured on your property.

The same goes for other hazards, including exposed wiring, loose or damaged shelving, carpets, rugs, floor mats with folded over corners that might be a trip hazard, and malfunctioning doors (especially automatic doors).

If an accident does happen, be sure to show concern for the customer, says Lawrence Buckfire, injury attorney with Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. (@BuckfireLaw). “Customers are more likely to sue when a store shows a lack of concern or indifference about the injury,” he says. “You do not need to apologize, but just show that you care that a customer was injured on your property.”

If it’s a serious injury and you report the incident to your insurer or claims adjuster, Buckfire recommends making sure that they follow up with the customer. “Many times a customer is told there will be a call from an adjuster but never receives one. That is when they call a lawyer.”