The law expects that all businesses must take the proper steps to ensure that the customers and clients visiting their premises are safe and protected from injuries and accidents. Although unforeseen incidents cannot be prevented, every business owner should be prepared for the possibility of having to deal with personal injury lawsuits.
As a store or company owner, you must take the basic precautions to ensure that your setup remains safe from lawsuits brought by employees or customers. Keep in mind that plaintiffs suing your company even with a small complaint can cost you millions of dollars if found to be valid. It might interest you to know the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that each year 16,397 personal injury cases are presented in court. This number makes up only 4% of the total number of incidents with the other 96% being settled out of court.
Here are some of the initiatives you can implement on a regular basis.
1. Conduct Regular Training Sessions for Your Employees
Educate your employees about the importance of a creating a hazard-free workplace, both for the people who work in the company and for customers, vendors, and any other visitors so that personal injury lawsuits are avoided. Remember, even if the incident occurs because of the negligence of a worker, you could still be held responsible.
- Set up a protocol that employees must strictly follow when using equipment. Train them carefully so that even the simplest of tasks are performed without causing injury or creating a hazard. For example, a smart stacking system that won’t cause products to tumble with casual brushing.
- Insist that all equipment is stored carefully after use and not left lying around so it can hurt people.
- On your part, keep all equipment well-maintained and in perfect working order.
- As a feature in Business.com explains, teach your employees to keep a sharp lookout for loose railings and floorboards, torn carpets, shaky tiles and bricks, or any other potential hazard.
- Welcome feedback from your workers regarding any health and safety issues that need to be dealt with.
2. Invite Professional Health and Safety Inspections
Even if you’re not the property owner, as the lessee, it is up to you to ensure that the building is safe. You can conduct regular inspections of the structure to look for any risks and hazards that can potentially lead to personal injury lawsuits resulting from negligence on the part of the store owner. If possible, get a professional to inspect the external and internal sections, sidewalks outside, storerooms, stairways, hallways, restrooms, and all other areas of the company structure. Yet another smart strategy is to call in an attorney who has the necessary experience in litigation to take a look around and identify any weak spots.
3. Conduct All Maintenance and Renovations Out of Working Hours
Schedule any cleaning and maintenance tasks out of business hours so that they don’t cause any slips and falls. For instance, water or soap on the floor, ladders in the hallways, and tools lying around could hurt visitors. You can also risk a personal injury lawsuit because of the dust or fumes from cleaning solutions. If you must have the repair jobs done right away, section off the area with the mandatory yellow signs warning visitors of the risks.
4. Organize the Workplace Carefully
Organize your store or workplace carefully so that there is no clutter lying around that can cause tripping incidents. Mark out all corners carefully with signs that are clearly visible. Arrange the desks and aisles with enough moving space. If your organization has earned certificates and licenses for health and safety precautions, you might want to display them. In this way, you offer assurance to customers that your company takes all the necessary care for their protection.
5. Talk to Your Insurance Company about General Liability Coverage
Getting protection against personal injury lawsuits that can cause significant losses is a good move. As an article on FindLaw reveals, accidents can also occur in areas where the lighting is inadequate or because of natural weather conditions like rain water or melted snow that can result in a slip-and-fall occurrence. General liability insurance can provide you with coverage in case you get sued. In addition to personal and bodily harm, the insurance also protects you from advertising injury, slander, libel, damage to property and any other risks.
6. Handle an Accident with Tact and Sensitivity
You can take all the possible precautions to secure your establishment but accidents can take place. It is advisable to stay informed on the best measures to take when an incident occurs. For instance, have an updated first-aid kit always at hand. Inform emergency services right away and do everything you can to add to the comfort of the injured person. Create a detailed account of the incident and request all the other people around for statements. Record their impressions along with their names and contact information in case you need to call them in as witnesses. Also, get in touch with your attorney to prepare for the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.
In addition to the costs of litigation, you may have to deal with the loss of reputation of your business in case an accident and its fallout takes place. Protect your company from unwanted and unfavorable publicity by doing the best you can to secure the premises and avoid personal injury lawsuits.