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Slip and falls: what small business owners should know

Small business owners in Georgia may find themselves facing a premises liability claim if a customer or other entrant slips and falls on their property. The following is an outline of what slip and fall accidents might mean for small business owners and what they can do to avoid claims.

First of all, business owners have a duty of care toward entrants, which includes maintaining a reasonably safe property. Those renting a property are responsible for the safety of entrants, too.

The property should be free of dangerous conditions, which can be created by broken sidewalks and potholes outside as well as poor lighting, torn carpets, debris and narrow staircases inside. For a claim to be successful, the dangerous condition must have been unanticipated, and the victim must not have been engaging in careless behavior.

Victims must also prove that the owner was aware of the condition, had sufficient time to address it and failed to do so. For example, the owner may have failed to put out signs warning about wet floors. Violations of building codes can also constitute a valid claim.

To prevent slip and falls, owners should conduct regular property inspections with co-workers and correct all dangerous conditions right away. If something cannot be immediately fixed, property owners should set out warning signs. Lastly, owners can consider a commercial general liability insurance policy.

Victims who believe they have a strong case under premises liability law may want to hire a lawyer because, as the above suggests, it can be difficult to meet all the requirements. A lawyer might hire investigators to gather evidence like the incident report and any surveillance footage. Medical experts may be called in to show that all reported injuries are linked to the slip and fall. The lawyer may then proceed to settlement negotiations, litigating as a last resort.

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