The last thing a business owner anticipates is someone being injured on their property. However, what is an even bigger concern is negligence — not only is it bad for your business, but it is bad for those who are visiting your business. Here are some important facts you must be aware of regarding injuries on your property.
Understanding Premises Liability
As a property owner, you have a legal responsibility to ensure the property you own is safe for those who are invited to be on the property. For example, if you own a shopping center, then the center must be safe for shoppers, those who are delivering goods, and employees who are expected to report to work on the premises.
If you fail to take care of the property and a hazard is present which causes someone to be injured, you can be held liable for the injury they suffered. This means you could be held responsible for paying their medical bills, reimbursement for time lost from work, and other costs associated with their care while recovering from an injury. Typically, victims will seek guidance from a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon to determine what legal rights they have and what obligation you have as a property owner.
Avoiding Premises Liability Claims
The primary issue every property owner must address is how to avoid having a premises liability claim for an injury filed by a personal injury lawyer against them. Here are some of the best ways to avoid this type of costly claim:
- Careful inspections — the best way to ensure the safety of your property is to conduct regular inspections of areas where there could be hazards. This includes taking the time to ensure floor coverings are not coming loose, stairwells are safe, parking areas have sufficient lighting, and any chemicals stored on site are properly labeled and sealed. Additionally, you should also check the exterior of your facility. Making sure there are no areas on sidewalks which are accumulating water, making sure outside access steps are not damaged, and making sure walkways are free from obstruction or debris. While it is perfectly acceptable to hire someone to be responsible for making these safety checks on a regular basis, keep in mind, the ultimate liability should someone suffer an injury will belong to you. All defects identified should be noted properly.
- Warning signs — any defects which were identified during inspection must be immediately flagged with visible signs to warn visitors to your property of the hazard. Taking immediate action if the issue cannot be repaired immediately can help minimize your liability should someone suffer an injury due to the hazard. Remember, defects are not the only areas where you should place warning signs. Wet sidewalks which become slippery because of leaves, icy sidewalks and parking lots, and wet floors due to the weather should all have warning signs placed on them to prevent injury as much as possible.
- Correcting defects — a warning sign is fine, but you must also take steps to repair any hazardous conditions as soon as possible. Naturally, everyone understands some damage will take time to repair, such as replacing a worn carpet or floor, but you cannot wait several weeks or months to address these defects. Remember, victims will seek guidance from a personal injury attorney if they suffer an accident on your property. Any attorney is liable to ask for maintenance records to determine when the hazard was first brought to the attention of the property owner.
Taking action is important: First and foremost, you can prevent someone from suffering a life-altering injury and you can also avoid a potentially damaging personal injury lawsuit by properly maintaining your property.
Premises Liability Can Be More Than Slip and Fall
While the most common type of accident on most premises are those which are classified as slip and fall, there are other types of accidents which you must be aware can occur. As a personal injury lawyer in Bend, I have seen other types of accidents which can result in serious injury. These include:
- Injury or assault in parking lots
- Fumes or chemical inhalation illnesses
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Burns from electrical problems
- Burns due to overheated water
- Animal bites
- Accidents involving equipment malfunction
- Injuries caused by items falling from heights
Any type of these accidents could result in serious injury which could mean legal jeopardy for you and your company. Taking care to keep visitors safe is the key to avoiding these types of claims.
Understanding Protections for Injured Persons
Oregon law does take into consideration there are instances where a person is not on your property legally. There are three classifications of persons which are important for property owners to understand. They are:
- Invitee — when a person has your permission to enter your property. This permission may be express or implied. Customers at a business location including employees, shoppers in shopping centers, patients in physician offices, clients entering an office building, or guests at a hotel fall into this category. Invitees are always owed a duty of care. This means your business property is being well maintained to ensure safety when people enter.
- Licensee — this person is like an invitee except they are entering your property with the same level of permission but you, as property owner may not be expecting to see a financial gain from their presence. This category includes persons delivering goods to your premises, tradesmen such as plumbers or electricians, or salespersons who are entering the property to sell you services or goods. As a property owner, you have an obligation to ensure they are aware of any hazard which may cause them harm.
- Trespasser — with exceptions made for children who may enter your property. As a property owner, you typically do not have any duty of care to a person who is trespassing. For example, if your property has a swimming pool and the fence is left open and an adult enters your property and uses the pool and suffers an injury, you have no responsibility. However, in this case, if a child enters and suffers an injury, you could be held liable.
Every business owner should take care to ensure their property is always as safe as possible to avoid facing the financially devastating consequences of a personal injury lawsuit being filed against them. Workers, invitees, and licensees expect to be safe when they enter your property, and you have an obligation to ensure their safety.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm in Central Oregon
If you have suffered an injury on someone else’s property and you believe your injury could have been prevented if they had properly maintained their building, contact a personal injury lawyer in Bend at The Steele Law Firm.