As a business owner, you owe visitors to your premises a certain assurance that your property is safe to visit. This is your “duty of care.” Unfortunately, no matter the steps you take, accidents will still occur. You may find yourself facing a premise liability claim from a slip-and-fall accident.
To legally absolve yourself of liability, here are several defenses you could potentially use:
The risk was unforeseeable
You can defend a slip-and-fall claim by proving that the hazard or danger that caused it was unforeseeable or unknown. In such a case, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff to show that you were aware or should have been aware of the risk in time to take action to mitigate it. If you can show that the risk was truly unknown and unforeseeable, that relieves you of the responsibility for fixing the danger.
You took reasonable steps to avoid the accident
A possible defense is that you took reasonable steps to prevent the slip-and-fall accident. For example, if a liquid spilled onto the floor, you may have put up “Wet Floor” signs or otherwise blocked off the area to prevent customers from falling.
The plaintiff had another choice of way
You could defend a slip-and-fall claim by showing that the plaintiff had a choice of ways, one which was safe and the other with a clear element of risk and danger. If they chose the latter, it could shift some or all the blame for their accident onto their shoulders.
The danger was open and obvious
You may assert that the slip-and-fall accident was caused by such an open and obvious hazard that it could have been easily avoided. Everybody has a duty to be aware of their surroundings, so if someone walked into an open hole in the parking lot that was six feet wide because they were staring at their cellular phone, that’s not your fault.
A successful defense of a slip-and-fall case could save your business a lot of money, and knowing how the law operates around premise liability cases might be pretty helpful.