What responsibility do business owners have for visitor safety?

| Apr 6, 2021 | Personal Injury |

Often, when people file a lawsuit against a business owner for an injury, it’s due to some negligence regarding the upkeep of the business property. If someone slipped and fell, for example, it could be because the store owner failed to clean up a spill or neglected to clear snow and ice away from their outside walkway. 

Tripping hazards, like uneven floors, lumpy carpeting and broken steps, are common issues, as well. In grocery stores, displays and objects on high shelves can fall and hurt people. In short, dangers abound — but companies know this and know that they can take steps to mitigate the risks to their visitors.

Fire prevention and safety

Business owners owe customers and visitors some expectation of safety. Emergency exits need to be clearly marked, for example, and unobstructed. Fire extinguishers need to be available. In larger properties, emergency evacuation maps, sprinkler systems, smoke detectors and fire alarms are typically required. 

If a business doesn’t have the required fire safety equipment and preventative measures in place, anyone injured in a fire on their premises may be able to hold them liable. 

Preventative measures against foreseeable crimes

Businesses have a responsibility to protect those on their property from becoming the victims of crimes like assaults and theft. Not every business has to worry about that to the same degree, naturally.

Business owners generally need to provide the level of security commensurate with the potential for crime in the area where they’re located, the type of business they operate and the clientele they attract. The concept of “foreseeability” can come into play if someone becomes the victim of a crime inside a business or on its property (like in a parking lot).

When a business owner can reasonably foresee the potential for crime, they may take preventative action like:

  • Having good lighting around the doors, walkways, parking lot and hallways where restrooms are located
  • Using security guards and cameras inside and outside
  • Not having thick trees and shrubs where people can hide
  • Keeping shrubs and trees trimmed to minimize hiding areas for perpetrators
  • Having a monitored alarm system

If you or a loved one was the victim of a crime that you believe could have been prevented if the property owner had taken reasonable preventative measures, you may be able to hold them liable. An experienced attorney can provide you with valuable guidance.