Small business owners in New York and across the nation are responsible for ensuring that their place of business is free from hazards that could result in customers slipping and falling. If a customer does happen to trip, slip or fall at the business, the customer could file a lawsuit against the owner of the small business. These claims generally fall under personal injury suits. It's important that small business owners understand how they could be at risk of lawsuits and what their legal responsibilities are should a slip or fall occur.
Premises liability claims are filed against a business owner if a slip or fall occurs. Premises liability requires the plaintiff to prove that the fall occurred due to "dangerous conditions" on the property. "Dangerous conditions" are defined as circumstances that present an unreasonable risk that is unanticipated. Because the term dangerous conditions may encompass many circumstances, liability is determined on a case-by-case basis.
In order for a small business owner to be held liable for the accident, the condition must have been created by the owner or an employee of the business. The condition must have also been present for a certain period of time, and it must be proven that the condition was not corrected during this time period. Finally, a small business owner must be found violating the statutes of building or city codes. If these three situations occur, the business owner will likely be liable for the accident.
People who become injured due to the negligence of a small business owner at their place of business may require medical care and may need to take time off work during healing. A lawyer may be able to help the injured party receive compensation for their loss due to premises liability. For example, if a sidewalk outside of a business is broken and a person trips and becomes injured, a lawyer might file a personal injury suit and seek damages for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.