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What small business owners must do to avoid slip and falls

Slips, trips and falls can frequently occur on small business properties, but owners can avoid many such accidents if they exercise their duty of care to their entrants, which includes both employees and patrons. The following are basics that apply to businesses in Georgia and across the U.S.

Since business owners are the ones who are inviting others on to their property, those entrants have the right to a reasonably safe environment. This means an environment free of hazards like cracked pavement, debris, loose handrails, torn carpeting and poorly lit stairwells. When a hazard presents itself but cannot necessarily be "repaired," such as a floor that has just been mopped, then owners are required to put out signage warning against it.

Owners will, therefore, need to pay for maintenance, inspections and repairs. They are encouraged to keep records of all preventative measures, too, in the event that someone files a premises liability claim. Employees should be trained on identifying and addressing hazards. In addition, owners are required to have premises liability insurance.

When failure to take reasonable steps results in an injury, owners may have to face a claim and cover the victim's medical expenses, lost wages and other losses. Owners can only be held responsible, though, if they knew of a hazard and were given sufficient time to fix it.

In cases where a lawful entrant is injured in a preventable accident at a business or someone's home, he or she may be eligible for compensation under premises liability law. However, it may be good to hire a lawyer for the filing process. The negotiation process can be especially tough without a lawyer since the legal representatives on the other side will likely be aggressive in denying payment. A lawyer might hire investigators and other third parties to strengthen a case before heading to negotiations.

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