Any facility that is open to the public should take reasonable steps to prevent injury to those who visit. Those steps could include snow or ice removal in the winter, addressing spills inside quickly and maintaining the property. Broken railings, glass or pavement could all create unnecessary hazards for the public. Overly waxed flooring could result in a slip-and-fall incident. Even furniture and fixtures improperly mounted or constructed could create a risk of injury.
Businesses already know that they should take steps to protect the public from injuries on their property. That's because the law creates liability for property owners, known as premises liability. If neglect or improper maintenance lead to someone suffering an injury on private property, the owner or manager of that property could be financially liable for any losses suffered by the injured party.
Slip-and-falls are common, but not the only concern
There's a reason that stores put out signs warning of wet floors after a spill or when cleaning the floors. If someone slipped on the floors and broke a bone or hit one's head, the business will likely end up paying for medical costs related to the injury, as well as lost wages and other damages. Every year, many people end up in the hospital due to slip-and-fall injuries, so it makes sense that businesses worry about liability related to that kind of accident.
However, there are many other kinds of potential accidents that can happen. Tall shelves in a store, for example, can be a significant source of potential risk. Customers could try to climb lower shelves or on carts in an attempt to reach something on the top shelf. That could lead to a major fall. In some cases, it may even be possible to tip the entire shelf over, injuring both that person and anyone else nearby.
Premises liability policies can offer businesses some protection
The good news about the many potential ways someone can end up injured in a store or on someone else's property is that liability insurance offers some protection. Property owners and business operators pay for special insurance policies that protect them from financial losses in the event that someone gets hurt on their property or in their business.
However, the people who suffer injuries should be careful when interacting with any insurance company. Settlement offers, for example, should be the subject of careful review. You should never sign anything that limits your ability to seek additional compensation, especially if the payout or settlement is below the anticipated costs associated with your injury.
Filing an insurance claim could help cover your medical expenses and lost wages, but it should pay for all of your losses, not just a small portion of them.