When your door opens and someone walks into your store, you're not only greeting a potential customer, but a potential lawsuit. Retailers can be sued over "slip-and-fall" accidents and injuries, so storeowners should take precautions to prevent them.
A single lawsuit could cost a hefty sum after you add up the damages, lawyers' fees, and other legal costs. Even if the court rules you're not at fault, you could still end up with a $10,000 legal bill to cover your defense.
A store insurance policy (i.e., General Liability Insurance) may offer you some financial protection in these cases, paying for lawsuits over slip and fall accidents. But you'd rather avoid a lawsuit altogether. Let's look at what you can do to prevent accidents and injuries that may lead to third-party lawsuits.
How Storeowners Can Prevent Slip-and-Fall Injuries (and Lawsuits)
While slip-and-fall accidents are unpredictable, here are ways you can reduce their likelihood and prevent a devastating lawsuit from being filed against your store:
- Light all stairways, halls, and outdoor areas.
- Clean up spills and obstacles immediately.
- Post wet floor signs.
- Shovel snow / ice.
- Salt icy sidewalks.
- Offer mats for drying wet feet.
- Clean floor often when it's wet out.
- Display things so that they're easy to reach.
- Make sure all displays are secure.
- Stow power cords and extension cords out of the way.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the precautions you should take. But it's a good start. Your store might have particular risks and hazards you need to account for. Look around and see if anything jumps out to you as a potential hazard. For instance, a florist might have a leaky refrigerator that creates a slip hazard where water pools on the floor.
Remember to keep your store's shelving, racks, display cases, and other property in good repair. A customer could be the proverbial "bull in a china shop" and knock over your display, causing an injury in the process.
Check out our Retail Business Resources Section for more risk management tips for retailers.
Paying for Injuries
Paying for Customer Medical Costs After Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Let's say there's been an accident at your store — a customer waltzes in on a rainy day, slips on the wet floor, and twists her ankle. As you look at the customer's purple, swelling ankle, you know something's not right.
What do you do? Should you call an ambulance? General Liability Insurance often comes with coverage to pay for the immediate medical costs of customers injured at your store. If you need to call an ambulance for a broken wrist, snapped femur, concussion, or other ugly injury, General Liability Insurance may cover the cost.
Insurance providers often pay for these medical expenses because by doing so it's less likely that your customer will sue you. No one wants to be burdened by medical costs, and this insurance can make it so your customers can get immediate medical attention without the exorbitant bill.
Slip-and-Fall Insurance: What Your General Liability Insurance May Cover
When you open a store, you'll probably want to invest in General Liability Insurance from Day One. If you're sued over a slip-and-fall accident, GL may shield you from up to $1 million in legal expenses. GL may cover…
- Lawyers' fees.
- Court costs.
- Judgements / settlements.
Many storeowners want this coverage for the financial security it offers. Many landlords also require businesses to acquire General Liability to protect their own liability risks. You can also sign up for GL through a Business Owner's Policy, a cost-effective insurance package bundling General Liability and Property Insurance.
If you need this coverage to meet the terms of a contract or for the financial protection it can offer, submit an online application and get free insurance quotes.