7 ways to prevent slip-and-fall lawsuits
It is crucial to prevent slip-and-fall lawsuits to ensure the longevity of your business. It’s nearly impossible to prevent every accident from occurring with customers and visitors to your business, but you can take steps to significantly lower the risk of injury.
A slip-and-fall accident can happen almost anywhere. When an accident does happen, you might find yourself the target of a personal injury lawsuit and legally liable for the victim’s damages (i.e., their medical costs and hospital bills). As a business owner, you have what’s known as premises liability, meaning you’re responsible for keeping your property safe and in good condition for visitors.
The following guidelines can help keep your business safe and will help you know how to respond if a slip-and-fall injury does occur.
1. Conduct regular inspections
The best way to prevent slip-and-fall lawsuits is to regularly inspect your business to understand which areas have the highest potential for risk. Routinely walk the premises to look for hazards – wet floors, uneven surfaces, cracks, etc. – that could trip a visitor or customer. Check stairwells to make sure no obstacles are blocking them, and keep walkways well-lit and slip-resistant, especially if they are exposed to rain, sleet, and snow.
2. Document hazard inspections
Keep a record of when a hazard appears at your business and what you did to eliminate it. Document your inspections in a maintenance log so that you can prove you took the necessary steps to maintain your property and keep your business safe.
3. Display warning signs about hazards
If you find a hazard that can’t be immediately fixed, place signs and warnings around it to alert visitors until you can have it repaired. Moveable signs and cones can help warn people about temporary hazards such as slippery floors or malfunctioning equipment.
4. Install a camera system
A surveillance system can help you monitor your business for situations that may pose a risk, helping you to fix problem areas before an injury happens. A video camera system can also record accidents and help resolve claims, reducing the likelihood of false claims. Be sure to place cameras in strategic locations so that you can clearly identify involved parties and what occurred during the incident.
5. Immediately complete an incident report after a slip-and-fall accident
Document slip-and-fall accidents as soon as someone reports an injury. Incident reports can help identify problem areas and the cause of injuries. Record accounts from the victim and eyewitnesses, and photograph any alleged hazards. Don't admit fault for an accident until after you contact and consult with your insurance provider.
6. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible
To better manage claim costs, it’s important to report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible. A general liability insurance or premises liability insurance policy can cover immediate medical expenses for a customer or visitor who falls and is injured at your business. It also can provide the means for a legal defense if that customer decides to sue you. Insureon can help you compare general liability quotes from multiple insurance carriers with one easy application.
7. Follow up with the injured visitor
If an accident happens on your property, be sure to follow up with the person to show that you care about his or her well-being and request that your insurance company follows up, too. “Customers are more likely to sue when a [business owner] shows a lack of concern or indifference about the injury,” said Lawrence Buckfire, an attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire. “You do not need to apologize, but just show that you care that a customer was injured on your property.”
Compare insurance quotes from trusted carriers with Insureon
In addition to taking steps to prevent slip-and-fall accidents, it’s important to have a general liability insurance policy in place to make sure you are not financially liable for injuries that occur on your premises. Insureon has helped thousands of small business owners compare general liability quotes. Start a free online application today to learn more about options for your business.