Can your business be sued for slip & fall?

Premises Liability for businesses is greater than your private home. Therefore, greater precautions are demanded. Per an article entitled: How to Prepare for Commercial Real Estate for Premises Liability

When it comes to premises liability claims, in general, the onus is on a business or property owner to ensure reasonable care of the premises. When proven negligent, they can become a target for personal injury attorneys whose aims are supported by statistics.

In 2017, more than 53,000 personal injury cases were filed. Just a few years earlier in 2014, that number exceeded 76,000. Although there’s been a decline of personal injury case filings in recent years, I believe it is still as important as ever to ensure you know how to prepare for potential liability at your business.

The article recommends three prongs of defense:

  1. Try to hire attorneys familiar with your asset’s class. . .If you can find a lawyer who specializes in suing C-class asset owners, ask them which attorney gave them the biggest run for their money with a case they tried.
  2. Ensure you have sufficient insurance coverage. . . Whether a patron sits on a broken piece of furniture, trips over a wire or is bitten by another patron’s dog, premises liability coverage is needed to pay for the injured party’s medical expenses.
  3. Consider hiring on-site security. . . Having a reputable security presence, I believe, is an excellent first line of defense for a business owner who is threatened by the likelihood of premises liability claims. In some cases, it could be the strongest prong in this three-pronged approach. If property owners are struggling with balancing the dollars and cents for this investment, they should remember that having the right security presence has the potential to reduce their dependency on the other two prongs — adequate premises liability coverage and strong counsel.

The Alabama Supreme Court defines the duty a business owner owes to customers (or “business invitees”) as follows:

 “The owner of a premises owes a duty to business invitees to use reasonable care and diligence to keep the premises in a safe condition, or, if the premises are in a dangerous condition, to give sufficient warning so that, by the use of ordinary care, the danger can be avoided.”

Kmart Corp. v. Basset, 769 So.2d 282 (Ala.2000).  However, “the mere fact that a business invitee is injured does not create a presumption of negligence on the part of a premises owner.”  Hose v. Winn-Dixie Montgomery, Inc., 658 So.2d 403, 404 (Ala.1995).  Rather, “a premises owner is liable in negligence only if it fails to use reasonable care in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe manner.”