Not every slip and fall in a retail store results in a lawsuit and big payout. To win a personal injury lawsuit against a business in Pennsylvania, a customer must prove three things:
The business had a legal duty to create a safe environment for customers, which is called a “duty of care.”
The business did not meet its “duty of care.”
The customer was harmed by the failure of the business to meet its “duty of care.” Harm includes pain and suffering, medical costs, loss of earnings and the loss of the ability to live as before.
The easiest way for businesses to avoid costly personal injury lawsuits is to understand how “duty of care” affects daily operations. For starters, all businesses that meet the public should routinely inspect the premises for safety hazards that could cause harm to customers.
Businesses should also regularly clean the premises to prevent slips and falls; inspect equipment used by shoppers such as shopping carts and conveyor belts; and inspect the premises for potentially dangerous hazards, such as heavy objects on high shelves.
Finally, the business should make sure all parts of the premises and parking lot are well-lit.
But following safety policies and practices isn’t enough. The business also has a “duty of care” under unfavorable conditions. Business should therefore:
• Post warnings of potential hazards, such as wet floors, exposed cable wire or changes in floor or sidewalk elevation.
• Provide a mat or rug near entranceways during storms to avoid the accumulation of water on store floors.
• Immediately repair cracked or crumbling pavement on the premises.
From shopping carts to protruding display hooks, retail businesses that don’t act to prevent injuries to their customers will find themselves losing expensive lawsuits.
— Robert F. Daley, Robert Peirce & Associates, firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering updates on matters affecting business. To contribute, contact Business editor Teresa Lindeman at email@example.com.