Personal injury lawsuits are one of the many costs of doing business for companies that welcome customers or employees onto their property. More than 700,000 personal injury claims are made in the USA each year. As a result of these, an average small business earning $1 million per annum spends around $20,000 each year on lawsuits. Regardless of whether or not a business has averted lawsuits, insurance against the possibility is advisable.
Below are five laws that are the basis of personal injury lawsuits against small business owners.
Public Liability and Negligence
Public liability and negligence are the most common reasons for personal injury claims to small businesses, which cover anything from a slip and fall to food poisoning. Businesses can be found to be negligent in their obligation to provide a safe place for customers or employees in the following circumstances:
- The business must have owed a duty of care. Duty of care can sometimes be created by contract but is most often created by physical proximity. Businesses have a duty to not harm people on their premises or through their products. All restaurants, shops, or places of business have the same duty of care.
- A breach of that duty must be shown. A business breaches their duty of care when they don’t act with sufficient care.
- The business’ breach of duty must be the cause of the injuries sustained. This must show that if not for the businesses breach of duty, there wouldn’t have been any injuries. In conjunction with this, the plaintiff must also show that the business could have foreseen that their conduct may cause injury.
- Damages are the final step to proving a personal injury case. Damages are the injuries that plaintiffs can be compensated for. In personal injury lawsuits, emotional impact and ability to function are taken into account. The financial compensation is determined by a mathematical equation. For example, if you lose the ability to use one leg properly, that is viewed as a certain percentage of your body that no longer functions.
In making a claim of negligence or public liability, plaintiffs must prove each of the above elements.
Premises liability pertains to the theory that property owners are liable for injuries and accidents that take place on their property. This covers a range of dangerous conditions including uneven pavement, wet floors, uncleared snow, and falling objects, to name just a few. Business owners have a duty of care to identify, correct, and repair known dangers and maintain a safe environment for their employees and customers.
Work Related Injuries
Unfortunately, although workplace injuries have reduced over time, they do still occur. Employee injuries can run up astronomical costs for businesses with medical expenses, lost wages, and productivity slashed.
In cases where an employee has sustained life-changing injuries (meaning the plaintiff can no longer work), small businesses can be rendered unable to carry on operating. For this reason, it is necessary that all businesses employing staff have up to date workers’ compensation insurance policies in place.
Claims of product liability can be made against the manufacturer, retailer, or anyone else involved in the process of supplying a product to consumers. The products we use every day go through strict testing and adhere to many rules and regulations in order to ensure the safety of the end users.
If something goes wrong, it is most likely to be the consumer who will suffer. While product liability claims are the least common of all the claims detailed here, they can still amount to substantial expenses and even lead to bigger claims being made on responsible parties.
It is prudent for small businesses to protect themselves from the above examples of personal injury claims. They can do this with insurance, and by putting in place suitable procedures and protocols in order to guard against the likelihood of personal injuries occurring.