Personal Injury Lawsuits Your Small Business Can Avoid


Personal Injury Lawsuits Your Small Business Can Avoid
Seventy five percent of small business owners in America worry they will be the target of a frivolous or unfair lawsuit. Given that tort lawsuit costs in the U.S. have risen at a pace faster than GDP since the 50’s, it’s a reasonable concern.

Below are four of the most common personal injury laws used to bring cases for compensation against small businesses. Included are some tips to help small operations protect themselves against these lawsuits.

Defective Products

Product liability claims can be made against retailers, manufacturers, or other businesses involved in the supply chain for making a product available to consumers. Product liability claims are the least common of all personal injury claims against small businesses, but can quickly run up a high payout. The average award for this type of personal injury lawsuit was over $3.4 million as of 2012.

Product liability pertains to defects in a product sold. Issues with designing, manufacturing, and marketing can all give rise to a product liability claim. To limit possible exposure, it is important that businesses ensure the products they sell, supply, or manufacture:

conform to the appropriate rules and regulations
are tested at all stages of the production lifecycle to ensure defects do not exist
put component parts through a robust due diligence process
include necessary warning labels on packaging
negotiate indemnification from upstream sources with manufacturers or designers to ensure they hold financial responsibility if their product causes a consumer harm

Claims for Workplace Injuries

All employees expect to be able to perform their workplace responsibilities in a safe environment that keeps them free from injury. While there has been a reduction in work place injuries over the past decade, they do still happen. When they do, they can be costly.
Not only will the business be liable for any medical expenses or lost wages, in instances where an employee is no longer able to work they also need to cover costs associated with replacing the injured worker. Employers will also need to carry the cost of decreased productivity, legal expenses, and increased insurance premiums. All of this can result in a business being unable to continue.
Businesses must adhere to relevant occupational health and safety laws and regulations set by the Department of Labor. It is imperative that all businesses employing staff have current workers compensation insurance policies.

Accidents on Your Premises

Premises liability claims are based on the theory that property owners are responsible for injuries or accidents that occur on their premises. This is the second most common claim made against small businesses. It includes any injury caused by a variety of hazardous conditions, from slip and fall claims to dog attacks. Property liability claims can be made against property owners, tenants, or maintenance providers.

All potential risks must be identified, fixed, or mitigated with appropriate signage to ensure a safe place of business is maintained. It is wise for businesses to keep records of maintenance work, cleaning records, and other relevant documentation pertaining to the upkeep of their premises. This will enable them to respond to premises liability claims.

Public Liability and Negligence

The most common and complicated of all claims made against small businesses, public liability covers a range of civil wrongs based on a breach of duty of care. The applicant is usually successful if such a breach can be proven. To prove the breach it must be shown that:

a duty of care was owed.
a breach of that duty was made.
the breach of duty is the cause of the injury.
the injured party deserves damages.

Damages are the final step to finalizing a personal injury case. Compensation for damage incurred is devised through a mathematical equation.

It is imperative that thorough records are kept, showing that the business has done all that can be reasonably expected to ensure the safety of their customers and clients. A case study detailing how an outdoor education business successfully responded to such a claim gives a great example of the extent of record keeping required to successfully fight a public liability case.
 By understanding the process for a personal injury claim and adhering to relevant laws and record keeping processes for their particular vertical, businesses of all kinds can protect themselves from unfair or frivolous claims for compensation.

Comments

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