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Businesses have a duty to keep properties safe for customers

| Feb 14, 2019 | Premises Liability |

The legal concept of premises liability obliges West Virginia businesses to maintain safe properties. They have a legal duty of care to monitor their properties for hazards, warn people about dangers and fix problems like broken handrails, bunched up carpet or rugs, wet floors, and icy sidewalks. This responsibility arises because companies generally actively encourage people to enter their properties.

Maintenance costs fall onto the shoulders of businesses because of their potential liability for slips and falls. Owners or property managers need to regularly inspect buildings, walkways and stairs to identify and remedy issues that could lead to accidents. Businesses should maintain thorough records of inspections and repairs in case someone makes a personal injury claim.

In some cases, liability might not apply to the business if no one knew about a hazard. For example, a handrail appears sound until it suddenly breaks in someone’s hand and causes a fall. A manager who sees a problem and ignores it, however, could still expose the business to liability for accidents. When customers or employees get injured in a fall due to poor maintenance or outright neglect, a business might have to pay a victim’s legal fees and medical expenses.

A person hurt at a business or other public place might want the support of a lawyer. Information about an insurance policy or property maintenance records might be hard for a person coping with painful injuries to track down, but a lawyer could focus resources on collecting evidence. A lawyer could contact the business and its insurer and seek a settlement for damages. Typically premises liability insurance covers slip and fall accidents, and a lawyer could manage discussions with the insurance adjuster and file a lawsuit if the amount offered in a settlement is insufficient.