Slips, trips, and falls seem like the kind of things that happen at other people’s businesses – until one happens at yours. In fact, one of the most remarkable features of slip-and-fall injuries is that they are in no way remarkable – they’re downright common.
How common? According to a report on small business insurance claims conducted by insurance carrier The Hartford last year, slip-and-fall claims are the fifth most common ones, accounting for 10 percent of all claims small businesses file.
Here’s the really scary part: the average slip-and-fall case costs about $20,000 to resolve. That’s a lot more money than most business owners have set aside for emergencies.
Obviously, it’s never good when a customer or another third party gets hurt on your property. But having an active General Liability Insurance policy can prevent a bad situation from growing worse. That’s because General Liability benefits can typically pay for:
In other words, your General Liability coverage empowers you to offer the best possible customer service in the event of a worst-case scenario. With typical policy limits of $1 million to $2 million, most small-business General Liability policies can easily handle the costs triggered by an onsite injury.
Of course, if you or one of your employees is the one to slip and fall on that puddle or loose carpet, your General Liability Insurance won’t be any help. Why? Because it’s specifically designed to cover third-party injuries.
Third parties are people who aren’t you, your employees, or your insurance provider. We used the example above of a customer getting injured, but third parties also include delivery people, plumbers or electricians on the premises to do work, folks who came in to get out of the rain, and so on.
If you or one of your employees does get hurt at work, Workers’ Compensation Insurance is the coverage designed to cover the related expenses.
Even if you have General Liability Insurance, it’s better for everyone involved if you can prevent an injury from happening in the first place. Andrew Vines, injury lawyer with Johnson & Vines, PLLC (@JohnsonVinesLaw), reminds us that small-business owners have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition.
“Whether this duty has been met usually depends on the length of time the slippery substance was present in an area of customer foot traffic,” Vines says. “The longer the substance is on the floor, the more likely it is that the owner will be found negligent in failing to remove it.” In other words: the worse you are at preventing injuries, the more likely you’ll be found liable for wrongdoing in court.
Accidents happen in even the best-prepared businesses. When they do, says Lawrence Buckfire, injury attorney with Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. (@BuckfireLaw), it’s essential to show the injured person that you’re invested in their well being.
“Customers are more likely to sue when a store shows a lack of concern or indifference about the injury,” Buckfire says. “You do not need to apologize, but just show that you care that a customer was injured on your property.”
If the injury is serious, he suggests insisting that your claims adjuster call as well. “Many times a customer is told there will be a call from an adjuster but never receives one. That is when they call a lawyer.” Yikes.
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