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Businesses are practically never safe from personal injury claims. Plaintiffs can ultimately sue a business for millions, even if the case or complaint is very obviously trivial.
If someone was injured because of your business, the victim has everything to gain. Sometimes people will go so far as to purposely cause an injury just to collect damages. Regardless of the plaintiff’s motivation, it’s important to protect your business from personal injury cases.
Every business, no matter its size, should have general liability insurance. This is one of the best ways to protect yourself against personal injury claims. Without this type of insurance, your business is at risk. Typically, if you have property insurance, you also have general liability insurance.
However, if you mainly operate out of your own home, you might not have either type of insurance. Business liability insurance protects you against a host of problems, including personal injury and bodily injury, as well as property damage, libel, slander, or advertising-injury problems.
Once you have general liability insurance, it’s a good idea to review it every year. This way, if a problem does occur, you’ll be familiar with what your policy covers, making it easier to talk with both the person who was injured and your insurance company.
Along with dangers due to the elements or spills, a business owner is responsible for the structure and maintenance of the property. This includes damage to the stairs and railings leading into the building and those inside the building itself. Bricks can lose their mortar over time, which creates an incredible hazard to visitors and employees. Railings can become loose and pull away from the wall, which is another hazard that’s avoidable.
Serious injuries have resulted from parts of a building’s facade breaking and hitting pedestrians. Pieces inside the building can become worn and dangerous too. There are many scenarios where you might not see damage, but it’s waiting to injure a visitor to your property and cause numerous headaches and lawsuits.
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from this kind of liability is to conduct routine maintenance after getting your commercial property inspected.
An inspection will cover you in the event of an accident too. It’s about being a building owner who cares about keeping the property maintained and safe for residents, visitors, or employees. After receiving the inspection, fix issues that the inspector has found to make sure no potential accidents are waiting to happen. A negligent business owner can be held liable for injuries, but if you’re regularly getting inspections and maintaining the property, you’re unlikely to lose in a lawsuit.
Cleaning and building maintenance are part of the deal when you own a building. Whenever possible, try to have cleaning and maintenance work done outside of normal business hours. A floor that’s just been mopped can cause a slip. A ladder setup in a hallway can cause injury. Fumes or dust that result from work may become a health issue.
If you’re not able to have the work done outside of normal business hours, try to section off the area being worked on or, at the very least, put up plenty of signs as warnings.
You might not realize that clutter is a potential hazard. The cleaner and more clutter-free a workplace is, the fewer possibilities there are for an accident.
Don’t let boxes pile up, especially in high-traffic areas. You also want to make sure to display any certificates, like training awards and licenses. This way, customers can immediately identify the steps that your business has taken to keep everyone safe.
Most important, though, is to make sure that any certificates you display are current and not expired.
With the right training and education, you can help employees stay safe and healthy in the work environment. If employees have to use equipment, or even if they have to do something as simple as lift boxes from time to time, show the right way to go about their job to prevent injury. Also pay attention to specific hazards that certain employees will face based on their job.
Everyone may be susceptible to a slippery staircase in the rain, but only certain employees will face the hazards that come with working in the stockroom, for example. It’s also important to provide employees with any safety equipment they may need. If company cars are used, make sure to have them maintained regularly to ensure that the tires, oil, and other maintenance issues are up-to-date.
During your regular company meetings, ask your employees for feedback relating to safety and health issues—they’re on the job every day and could provide valuable insight.
If a personal injury compensation claim is filed, you can protect your business by proving that you trained and educated your employees to help them avoid injury. And if your business can show that it took all of the safety measures possible, you have a better chance of winning the lawsuit.
But if an employee was harmed on the job but you did everything in your power to prevent the injury, it could have occurred because of the employee’s negligence. In this case, your business shouldn’t be held accountable.
Despite any safety precautions you take, accidents still happen, which can result in a person filing a personal injury claim. When one does, it’s important to know how to handle it.
The first thing you should do is call for emergency help. Then, record the accident in a log. Ask anyone involved or in the area for statements, and make sure to write this information in the log, along with the person’s name and contact information.
You’ll also want to contact your attorney, who knows the most recent health and safety laws and how they will affect your case.
A personal injury claim doesn’t just cost a business money—it can also cost companies their reputation. The best defense is to prevent problems in the first place. When this fails and an accident happens, the next step is to handle it as efficiently and professionally as possible.