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Choosing A Better Lawyer

When you are hurt in a car accident, there are a lot of things that run through your mind, but most people aren't focused on suing the other driver or their own insurance company. Unfortunately, because of the way the world works, most people find that they are given far less of a settlement than they deserve, especially if the accident wasn't their fault. I wanted to create a blog all about choosing a better accident and personal injury attorney, so that you can prevent longterm financial ramifications from your accident. I know that a lot of these tips helped me along my journey.

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How to Reduce Your Liability in a Slip-and-Fall Accident

by Willard Chambers

As a business owner, you want to do all you can to keep your business running smoothly. And part of that is reducing the likelihood of accidents on your property. According to recent statistics, slip-and-fall accidents are the number one reason people head to the ER each year. This number totals 8 million visits, one quarter of which are attributed to flooring issues. While you won't be able to prevent accidents 100% of the time, you can take measures to reduce their likelihood as well as minimize your chance of being held liable for the accident itself.

Know the Dangers

When you know the most common causes of slip-and-fall accidents, you can work to eliminate the risk of them occurring in your establishment. They include the following:

  • Floors that are wet, uneven, or broken
  • Poorly maintained sidewalks and stairwells
  • Unguarded manholes in construction zones
  • Loose handrails near stairs or on sidewalks
  • Poorly lit areas that can negatively affect visibility

Keep this list handy and make sure you regularly inspect your business for any of these threats. If possible, appoint a staff member to perform daily walk-throughs to look for any possible issues.

Understand Your Part in Liability

Now that you know the common causes of slip-and-fall accidents, you should have a firm grasp on what would cause you, as the business owner, to be held liable in a lawsuit. This is important because if a patron slips on your property and becomes injured as a result of that fall, that doesn't automatically mean that you'll be found at fault.

Here are the three main criteria that are examined when determining fault on the part of the business owner:

  1. The owner of the property or an employee knew about the dangerous situation but did nothing to fix it.
  2. The owner of the property or an employee—or a reasonable person—should have known about the dangers but did nothing to fix them.
  3. The owner of the property or an employee was the cause of the dangerous situation.  

If you meet one of these criteria, you may be found at fault, but it's not always that cut-and-dried.

Know If Your Actions Were "Reasonable"

Obviously, numbers one and three above are relatively easy to decipher. If you know the tiles on your floor are broken and pose a threat, and you do nothing to fix them, you may be held liable. But other factors come into play here.

There are certain situations in which a dangerous condition was present on your property, but you didn't cause it and you knew nothing about it. For instance, suppose a shopper in your store drops a jar of olive oil and it spills on the floor. They don't bother to notify store personnel, and one minute later, another shopper rounds the corner, slipping in the oil and falling down. If you didn't know about the spill, and none of your employees caused the spill, you probably won't be held liable.

But what if six hours had passed before someone came along and slipped? This is when you get into the area of determining what a "reasonable" person would have done. It's reasonable to expect that in those six hours, someone in the store should have noticed the spillage and done something about it. But it's not reasonable that the oil would have been noticed within one minute.

In another example, you may act "reasonably," posting cones or signs for hazards like "Caution: Wet Floor." If a customer chooses to walk beyond the marked area where the danger is present, most courts won't find you liable for the accident.

If you've found yourself in the midst of a slip-and-fall lawsuit, it's important to consult with a defense attorney who is familiar with liability in these types of accidents in order to have the best possible outcome. Talk to an attorney like Putnam Lieb Potvin for more information.

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