Slip and falls, and what they mean for small businesses

Under the premises liability laws in Georgia, business owners have the duty to maintain a safe environment for customers and employees. When a breach of this duty of care causes entrants to injure themselves in a slip, trip or fall accident, owners could be held liable. This means paying out for the victim's medical bills, lost wages and other losses. Even if the claim is dropped, owners must spend time and money defending themselves and their brand.

Knowing what this duty of care encompasses is important. Owners must have their property regularly maintained and repair any issue that puts entrants' safety at risk. This can include potholes and cracks in pavement, torn carpeting, insufficient lighting and loose railing on stairs. Owners must also put signs around wet floors and remove any debris that might be a trip hazard.

Business owners are given a reasonable amount of time to repair issues and will not be responsible for injuries arising from issues they were unaware of. However, one can raise the question of whether the owner should have known about an issue or not.

Providing signage, training employees and setting up repairs can be expensive. Premises liability insurance itself can cost small business owners $500 or more each year. At the same time, total immunity is not possible: Accidents can happen despite all of the above precautions.

Those who suffer slip and fall injuries might speak with a lawyer first to determine if they have the grounds for a claim. A lawyer may find out if victims were partially to blame for the accident and factor this into the potential amount for the settlement. The lawyer might also hire professionals to gather proof, such as any incident reports and surveillance camera footage. Victims may leave negotiations to their lawyer, litigating only as a last resort.

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