Business owners should take premises liability seriously
Business owners in Massachusetts and around the country are expected to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of customers, vendors and others who enter their establishments. While workers who are injured due to an unsafe condition will generally seek compensation by filing a workers’ compensation claim, visitors who are harmed may file a premises liability lawsuit when this duty of care is not met. This type of litigation is generally initiated against building occupants rather than their owners as most commercial leases include provisions that make safety matters the responsibility of tenants. The most common type of premises liability cases are slip-and-fall lawsuits caused by spills, uneven floors or accumulations of ice and snow. Business owners may be ordered to pay damages when they were aware of an unsafe or potentially unsafe condition and took inadequate steps to protect visitors. Business owners who wish to insulate themselves from this liability should conduct regular and thorough inspections and put policies and procedures into place that encourage workers or visitors to notify them of any potentially hazardous conditions. They should also place clear warning signs whenever such conditions are discovered. The damages awarded in slip-and-fall cases can be significant when the injuries suffered by plaintiffs are severe, and business owners may purchase general liability insurance policies to reduce their exposure to this kind of litigation. When facing premises liability lawsuits, business owners may argue that plaintiffs were injured at least partly due to their own negligence. Experienced personal injury attorneys may anticipate these claims, and they could compile evidence designed to refute such arguments before initiating litigation on behalf of accident victims. This type of evidence could include a record of complaints about unsafe conditions or a history of of similar lawsuits.