If you’re a business owner or facility manager, most state laws say you’re responsible for the safety of visitors, employees, customers, vendors, and in rare cases, even trespassers, while they’re on your property – this is known as premises liability. And it typically holds true whether you own or rent the premises where you do business.
Most of the time, even if the landlord is sued for negligence, the renter or private company that runs a facility will bear the primary legal and financial burden. Many rental agreements even stipulate that tenants assume responsibility for maintaining the safety of the property. This means the business owner will often be on the hook for damages to persons or property that occur on the business premises.
4 Common Types of Premises Liability
There are all kinds of situations that open a business owner or facility management company to the risk of a lawsuit. Here are some of the more common risks.
- Slip-and-fall risks — One of the most frequent premises liability claims arises from slip-and-fall occurrences in which a plaintiff claims the defendant property owner or manager negligently failed to maintain a safe environment. Owners should promptly address floor and walkway damage and impediments, unmarked potholes, ice, or any other hazard that constitutes a potential risk of this nature. Security and safety lighting can also come into play here, where a plaintiff may not be able to see a hazard that would otherwise be clearly avoidable.
- Insufficient security — A company may often be liable for third-party crimes occurring on their property if they have not taken reasonable measures to provide adequate security precautions. Employees and visitors should have a reasonable expectation of safety in most situations, and if that expectation is not met, the business may be open to risk. Proper security and safety lighting, security systems, passive and monitored CCTV systems, security guards, fencing, landscaping, and other passive and active security features can assist in shielding the business from this kind of liability. One of the more important aspects of most premises liability claims related to inadequate security is the history of the criminal activity on the property and in the area. While the courts throughout the country define both the relevant history and areas differently, there is more often than not a reliance on this data in determining if those responsible for the property should have known, and done more to protect against a violent or non-violent third-party criminal action.
- Obstructions on property — Dangerous or defective property conditions that are not clearly posted as a danger may cause accidents and could put the business at risk. Obstructions on the floor or overhead should often clearly display a warning to prevent people from injuring themselves. Proper security and safety lighting also aims in minimizing these risks.
- Poor maintenance and upkeep–If people are put at risk as a result of poor upkeep of the business premises, the business owner may be held liable in the event of an injury. Any system in the building, as well as fire extinguishers, escalators, appliances, and most commonly, stairs, can pose risks. Stairs are sometimes designed poorly, but years of wear and tear can make them more dangerous.
There Are Other Less Common Forms of Premises Liability
Although less common, other premises liability risks should also be considered if they apply to your business. Here are a couple of examples:
- Toxic exposure–Leaving chemicals around or improperly labeling hazardous materials can put people at risk for toxic exposure and business owners at risk of heavy damage claims.
- Burn injuries–Building owners are often required to follow very specific codes—both state and local–regarding fire safety. Should an employee or visitor suffer burns while on the premises and it’s determined that the owner failed to follow these codes, a claim is likely to be filed.
If you believe you may be at risk for inadequate or negligent security premises liability issues, or issues with security and safety lighting, it’s good to enlist an experienced and efficient team to help you assess and prevent risk. Get in touch with OSS today. We have a proven track record and many satisfied clients, as our client testimonials reveal.