Personal Injury Lawyers
Attorney Van O'Steen

Business Owner Liable for Injuries

Van O'Steen

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"Slip and fall" is a term lawyers use to describe a particular class of accident injury.  When injuries are received after a fall of any type, the result is often a slip and fall claim against the owner of the property or business or against his insurance company.

A common misconception is that a property owner, or his insurance company, must pay every time an accident or injury occurs.

Lawyers, however, generally regard these as difficult claims.  Historically, the law made it difficult for an injured person to demonstrate that a property or business owner was at fault for allowing a potentially hazardous condition to exist. Also, the claimant's duty to be alert to dangerous conditions, and to avoid them, defeats some claims even when an owner was clearly careless.

Because of the sometimes impossible burden of requiring absolute proof of a property or business owner's carelessness, courts for some time have recognized that if the dangerous condition was created by an employee, the employer, would be liable whether he or she knew of the condition or not.

For example, if a laborer leaves construction debris lying where people are likely to trip over it, his employer will generally be held to have been careless, even if the employer had no knowledge of the debris.

Recently, courts have extended liability for slip and fall injuries to business owners where the danger was created by a customer rather than an employee. Grocery stores, restaurants and bars are the most affected. Courts now reason that these business operators should anticipate that food, drink, or the like will regularly end up on the floor, thereby creating a danger to others.

Owners of such establishments must take reasonable steps to prevent injury by inspecting for and removing potentially hazardous conditions. Failure to do so is neither good business, good citizenship nor good self-protection.