As a business owner, you probably have a lot on your plate. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have a role in everything from marketing efforts and product design to accounting and recordkeeping. You’re also ultimately responsible for any legal proceedings against your enterprise – including the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.
The hard truth is that a successful personal injury lawsuit can heavily impact the success of your business. You may be held liable for money damages, and your reputation and viability could be at stake going forward. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your business is prepared for this type of litigation.
Read on to learn about 5 tips to protect your business from a personal injury lawsuit.
Take Measures To Keep Your Premises Safe
Premises liability is a key area of personal injury law, especially in regard to claims against businesses. Under premises liability law, property owners are required to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Failing to do so can lead to financial liability for accidents such as slips and falls, which happen more often than you might expect.
Premises liability law varies depending on the state. However, most place emphasis on the relationship between the visitor and the type of premises in question. Specifically, most states break down visitor status into three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
If your business involves a public-facing storefront, most people who come upon your premises will be considered invitees. Invitees are generally owed the strongest legal protections under premises liability law, as they normally visit the premises for the benefit of the property owner.
To protect yourself from the possibility of a premises liability lawsuit, it is best to regularly inspect your property for any dangerous conditions. From there, you should aim to fix those conditions promptly and provide warnings in the interim. You should also take steps such as ensuring products cannot easily fall from shelves, that floors remain dry, and more, depending on your type of business.
Ensure You Have Proper Training and Hiring Procedures
Hiring and training are critical components of a successful business. Properly vetting candidates and getting new hires up to speed effectively helps your business grow and ensures profits remain steady.
However, what you might not have considered is that inadequate training and hiring practices can lead to personal injury claims against you. The doctrine of vicarious liability means that you (the employer) could be held liable for the actions of your employees.
For example, if an employee assaults a customer and it is later revealed that the employee had a criminal record, the victim may have a negligent hiring claim against you.
Having proper training and hiring procedures can help protect you against these types of claims. Some of the steps you may take include conducting thorough background checks before making any hires, training your employees on how to handle difficult situations, and keeping comprehensive employee records.
Purchase Business Insurance
The tips mentioned thus far have largely focused on ways you can prevent personal injury lawsuits from arising in the first place. However, that might not always be possible, even in the best of circumstances. This is where having business insurance can make a significant difference.
Many types of business insurance may prove beneficial, such as:
- General liability insurance, which protects you against financial loss due to defending lawsuits, property damage, bodily injury, and more
- Product liability insurance, which offers protection in case of a defective product that causes an injury
- Professional liability insurance, which protects you from acts of negligence or malpractice
You may choose to purchase one or more of these options as your needs align.
Keep Up With Workers’ Compensation Requirements
Workers’ compensation insurance may be considered a type of business insurance, but it’s worth mentioning as a separate piece of advice. The reason is that it’s possible you could face a personal injury claim from one of your employees if you don’t adhere to the law. So far in this article, we’ve focused on claims that customers or others may have against you.
In most states, the majority of employers must carry workers’ comp coverage that offers benefits to injured employees. Failing to carry this insurance when required by law could lead to a substantial personal injury claim against your business. But by purchasing the requisite amount of workers’ compensation insurance, you’ll protect yourself from these types of personal injury lawsuits.
Consult With an Experienced Premises Liability Lawyer
At the end of the day, each business is unique and has its own set of needs when it comes to defending against personal injury lawsuits. What may apply to another business may be completely irrelevant to yours.
By consulting with a personal injury lawyer with expertise in premises liability law ahead of time, you can receive personalized legal advice and recommendations based on the specifics of your business.