Small business owners in Arizona may be held legally responsible if someone slips and falls on their business premises. While mid-size companies and larger corporations may be able to handle such issues without too much of an impact on their bottom line, litigation of this nature can quickly become costly for businesses with limited resources. For this reason, small business owners are routinely encouraged to take proactive steps to reduce their odds of having to deal with potentially costly lawsuits.
Slip-and-fall accidents broadly fall under the category of premises liability, which means that a business owner may have to pay expenses related to an injured party's medical bills and lost wages. Small business owners aren't entirely without certain legal protections when allegations of a slip-and-fall injury are made. For instance, an injured party must prove that their injuries were the result of dangerous conditions a business owner knew about. Someone who slipped because of their own careless behavior might not be able to recover compensation.
Responsible parties in slip-and-fall cases involving small businesses may include the owner of the business as well as the separate owner of the property. In some cases, a property management company responsible for a business' physical upkeep might be held legally responsible for accidents. In addition to obtaining commercial general liability insurance, small business owners may be able to avoid preventable injuries and costly claims by performing preventative maintenance, conducting regular inspections of customer accessible areas and displaying clear warning signs if dangerous conditions are identified.
In order to prove that slip-and-fall accidents were reasonably preventable on the part of a small business owner, an injured party and their attorney must show that the owner created the condition, noticed or knew about the unsafe condition and did nothing about it, or violated building codes and certain statutes such as failure to install appropriate handrails on entryway or exit stairs. Because proving these elements could be complicated, a lawyer may offer assistance by gathering and presenting evidence, attempting to seek a mutually acceptable resolution and providing representation in court if circumstances involved are disputed.