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Slip and falls: what they involve for small businesses

Small business owners in West Virginia probably know that maintaining a safe environment for customers and employees isn't cheap. To start with, premises liability insurance can cost $500 or more each year depending on business type and size. Owners must also spend money on routine maintenance and repairs, employee training and signage to warn others about safety hazards. If business owners face a claim, they then have to pay for a legal defense.

Although there is no such thing as total immunity, owners do have some reassurance that they are reducing the risk for slip, trip and fall accidents when they are fulfilling their duty of care. It is when they breach the duty of care that they can be held liable for another's injuries. This could mean paying for the victim's medical expenses, lost wages and other losses.

There are many hazards to watch out for, including cracks in the sidewalk, ice, wet floors, boxes and other debris or loose railing on stairs. Employers have a duty to repair structural defects and put out caution signs for temporary hazards like recently mopped floors. However, if a problem just arose and an entrant was hurt before the employer was given a reasonable amount of time to address it, the employer is likely not at fault.

Those who incur confined space injuries may want to speak with a lawyer before filing their premises liability claim. The lawyer may factor in any comparative negligence on the entrant's part and determine a fair amount for a settlement. In addition, the lawyer might hire experts to find evidence of the business owner's negligence, such as the incident report and any surveillance camera footage. If an agreement cannot be made in the negotiation phase, the lawyer may help pursue the matter in court.

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