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What business owners should know about premises liability

In New York, as in other states, business owners have a duty to maintain a safe environment for their customers. If a customer slips and fall, they may be able to file a premises liability claim against the owner. Even when victims are not awarded damages, owners lose time, money and perhaps potential clients while defending themselves and their brands.

This "duty of care" encompasses several things. Business owners should, for example, ensure that their sidewalks, hard floors and carpets are free from problems. People could trip on cracks, wet floors or torn carpeting. Owners must also maintain stairs and keep the railing from coming loose.

To prevent accidents, it's important to first of all inspect the whole property. Employees should be thoroughly trained as well; that way, they can remove objects that are trip hazards and put out signs after they have mopped up hard floors. Repairs and signage naturally come out of the business owner's pocket.

There is also the added cost of premises liability insurance; even one-person businesses must pay $500 or more for it. However, costs vary depending on the size of the business. In addition, business owners should document all the maintenance and preventative measures they take in the event that they are faced with a lawsuit. In the end, unfortunately, there is no such thing as total immunity.

Those who wish to file a premises liability claim might want to consult with a lawyer first. Legal counsel can help determine if a case is valid or not. If necessary, the attorney could hire experts to study the incident and find proof against the business owner.

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