Business owners may not realize their level of responsibility for keeping customers and employees on company property safe. While accidents can take place at any time and insurance policies may cover some or all of the damages, it is still important to understand exactly what legal obligations you have when it comes to the safety and security of those on your property.
Protecting Visitors Engaging In Reasonable Actions
Many of the cases involving premises liability come down to the actions of the injured party. The property owner and their legal representative may attempt to prove that the guest was engaging in unreasonable or unsafe acts. This often includes situations such as a customer climbing a rack to get to a product or guests entering into an area that is only supposed to be accessed by employees.
Did the Owner Know of the Hazard?
Another major component of these cases is determining if the property owner or a representative such as an employee had ample time to react to the hazard. If the owner would not have a reasonable amount of time to remove the hazard or close off the area, then they might not be responsible for the accident. An example of this would be a customer spilling a drink and another customer slipping on the liquid just behind them before it could be cleaned up.
Any contributory negligence on behalf of the visitor or guest will limit the liability that is assigned to the property owner. Unlike visitors that willfully enter into an unsafe area, this would be a situation in which the visitor unknowingly contributed to their own injury. Uncovering any contributory negligence could reduce the damages that are awarded to the injured party. If the visitor was running through the store or wearing inappropriate footwear such as high heels, then they could be partially at fault.
This area of the law can become exceptionally complex in the blink of an eye. Variables such as uninvited visitors or even the type of risk that a guest is exposed to will be taken into consideration when determining which party is at fault. In the end, property owners want to ensure that their property is free from most hazardous conditions, appropriately label any remaining hazards, and contact an experienced attorney as soon as an injury does take place.