Things Every Business Owner Should Know About Premises Liability

When running a business, one of the most significant aspects of keeping the company afloat is maintaining a healthy, safe workforce. Though this might seem as simple as providing health insurance coverage, it requires much more oversight to keep employees safe. One aspect of employee safety some business owners might overlook is the actual property their business is operating on. Workers pursue premises liability cases when an unsafe workplace causes accidents resulting in injury. Business owners must remain aware of the different factors that could create hazardous conditions as well as their liability as the owner of the company.

What Constitutes a Dangerous Premise? 

Dangerous workplaces share the same common properties. Most of these properties act as obstacles that ultimately cause accidents while employees are working:

  • Inadequate lighting
  • Unstable or narrow stairwells
  • Improperly secured shelving
  • Wet floors
  • Torn carpeting
  • Uneven flooring or sidewalks
  • Building code violations
  • Lack of handrails and other accessibility-related features
  • Improperly maintained parking lots and driveways (ex. potholes)

Though these are the most common causes of workplace accidents, they are not the only causes that exist. As a business owner, you must verify that your establishment is safe enough for others to work in before opening its doors.

Common Premise-Related Injuries

Injured workers often claim common injuries in premises liability cases. Some of these injuries include: 

The severity of each injury varies depending on the context of the accident. For instance, even bruising could be serious in nature if caused by something like a falling object, especially if bruising occurs deeply and over large surfaces of the body. No matter the extent of the injury, it is viable for an employee to claim when filing a lawsuit. 

Owner Liability and Insurance 

Business owners are liable for every individual who steps inside of their establishments. This means that all employees, customers, and even vendors can sue you. All invited or licensed guests share this right – trespassers do not receive this luxury. If a guest suffers an injury on your premises, you are liable to pay for all damages associated with the accident. This can amount to several thousand dollars depending on the nature of the incident.

Property Insurance

As a business owner, it is wise to purchase property insurance. Owners who operate in commercial spaces can choose to obtain commercial liability insurance, while owners who possess a mortgage must purchase some form of insurance. If you own the building, property insurance is not mandatory, but you should purchase it regardless. Having liability insurance as a business owner prevents lawsuits from draining your own personal assets. Statistically, you can never prevent accidents altogether, making it crucial to obtain coverage.

Possessing adequate coverage is important to prevent out-of-pocket expenses. Some forms of insurance come with caps on what they cover altogether while others places limits on each specific category of damage (ex. medical costs, emotional distress). Once your insurance policy is completely exhausted, you must pull the money from other sources. 

Ways to Reduce Injuries

Business owners can take several precautionary steps to prevent injuries in their workplace: 

  • Routinely inspect your property to check if it needs cleaning and/or repair in any way. If you hire a company to perform upkeep, routinely check their work to make sure they are effectively completing their job.
  • Correct reported hazards immediately. Do not let seemingly tiny issues go because even tiny potholes in your parking lot are grounds for legal action. This is especially true when an employee directly reports the issue before it injures someone.
  • If you cannot immediately fix a hazard, obtain signage and release statements that warn against the hazard. Though some owners might think it wise not to publicly announce a hazard, this can work against them because warning signs and information can actually remove some liability from the owner.

If you are a business owner, it’s important to retain focus when it comes to workplace safety. As a working individual yourself, this might even mean hiring a third-party to conduct routine maintenance. Whether you monitor your building yourself, or hire someone else, keeping your property as safe as possible now will prevent lawsuits later.