As both a personal injury law firm and a business law firm we’re in a unique position: we have helped slip and fall victims recover a massive amount of money for their cases and we try to help businesses protect themselves against lawsuits.
Ultimately preventing accidents is best for everyone involved. Slip and falls are serious, with potentially fatal or life-long consequences requiring expensive treatments. While your insurance company will generally defend against a lawsuit on your behalf they may also raise your rates by a significant margin every time you face one.
Understand the Basis of a Slip and Fall Suit
Why can someone sue you over a slip and fall in the first place?
The legal premise arises from the idea that a person who owns property has a “duty of care” to the visitors, vendors, and customers who might visit the property.
Land owners are required to keep their property maintained within certain safety standards, and to ensure that hazards are clearly marked.
When this does not happen and someone gets hurt, they have gotten hurt because you as a land owner were negligent. But for your negligence, they would have been fine.
In other words, in any given slip and fall suit the plaintiff must prove you were negligent, prove they suffered an injury, and prove a direct line between that negligent behavior and their injury. There are of course defenses the average business owners can mount against these accusations, but many of them hinge on being able to show you took the proper steps.
Conduct Regular Maintenance
The first and greatest prevention measure is simply to conduct regular check-ups of your property. Look for signs of wear and tear, for hazards, and for things that are in need of repair.
While there is a sort of “grace period” when a hazard appears that allows you time to both find out about the hazard and address it, the sooner you can close that window the better off you will be.
In addition, if you can show a pattern of regular maintenance then you will have a much stronger defense against the average slip and fall case. Document everything to ensure this record does, indeed, exist.
Post Warning Signs
If you’re unable to get repair service fast enough or don’t have the cash flow to fix a problem right away then posting warning signs is the next best thing. Signs should be clear, unambiguous, and easy to see.
A plaintiff who ignores a warning sign and enters a dangerous area anyway may take all of the liability onto their own shoulders.
Surveillance can help you defend against fraudulent claims. It can also help you show when contributory negligence was present: that is, when a plaintiff, by their own behavior, either contributed to the accident or caused it entirely.
A few strategically placed video cameras here and there can also help you defend against spurious claims.
Get Legal Help for Your Business
While your insurance company will generally help you defend against slip and fall claims, it pays to have an attorney on your side who can help you identify liability issues in advance.
If you’re running a business in New York, give our firm a call. Give us the opportunity to help you stop problems before they start. This may be the most important call you make all year.
Submit this form to have your case reviewed by our attorney.
Meet Mr. Richman
SCOTT B. RICHMAN, ESQ.
Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines.