If you’re a business owner, and especially if you’re a small business owner, one injury lawsuit can sink your whole business.
According to Colorado statute, any landowner found negligent in the injury of another could be held liable for damages. And depending on the injury, damages can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs alone.
Below, the expert technicians at Professional Restoration review the best ways to avoid a costly premises liability lawsuit.
Get the Right Insurance
Any business that engages the public on its premises needs to purchase general liability insurance (GL), sometimes called business liability insurance.
This insurance is available to protect the business from a variety of claims including bodily injury, property damage, and other claims that may rise during daily operations.
In some cases, this insurance is combined in a business owner’s policy, or BOP, but not always. You may think you have the right coverage only to learn the hard way that you don’t.
Business owners should read their policy carefully to understand what’s included and how much money is available to cover damages.
Should you face a lawsuit, the insurance will pay out for the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but only up to the limits stipulated in the policy.
The work your business does and the assets you must protect will ultimately determine how much coverage you should purchase to avoid financial ruin.
Take Preventative Measures
One of the best ways to avoid a premises liability lawsuit is to create safety procedures and implement a safety plan.
The onus is on the employer to create safety policies. It is also his or her responsibility to train employees.
The safety policies you will need depends in large part on the business. For example, restaurants and retail stores interact regularly with the public, so making sure the sidewalks, interior floors, and bathrooms are safe should be a regular practice.
Conversely, an industrial warehouse may only interact with the public when dealing with delivery trucks and the postal service, so safety policies may be less robust.
Once you’ve established a plan, share it with employees. Have employees sign off on these tasks as they’re performed to keep a clear record of your safety efforts.
What Should You Look Out For?
Dangerous conditions can take many forms on a business property. As a business owner, it’s your job to think proactively about safety, which means recognizing potential dangers before they become a problem.
If you’re new to all this, knowing where to look for potential dangers can be just as daunting as fixing them.
Here’s a helpful list of common property pitfalls:
- Parking lots–a lot can go wrong, even in a parking lot. Check for dangers on the asphalt (large cracks, potholes, etc.) to avoid a dangerous misstep.
- Lighting–interior and exterior lighting should be working well at all times. If a customer is unable to navigate a danger due to poor or inadequate lighting, you and your business could be held accountable.
- Security cameras–if you’ve got these on your premises, it’s a good idea to keep them operational. Should someone from the public be victimized by a crime, for example, your business could be held responsible for not maintaining safety equipment.
- Snow and ice–in Colorado, especially, inclement weather can create dangerous conditions in no time at all. During winter months, it’s a good idea to take extra steps to avoid slip and fall accidents.
- No shortcuts after property damage–getting back to business after a fire or flood is very important to a business owner. But if the damage isn’t properly addressed, or the cleanup isn’t thorough, you could be putting your business and the safety of others at risk.