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Keeping Your Business Out Of Court

Let’s face it, as much as I like representing my clients in court, unless you are a law firm, that’s not where your profit is made.  There are three areas common to all businesses, regardless of its actual business, where its human leadership needs to be conscious of their exposure to liability.

By far the largest category of law suit by an individual against a business is Negligence suits, where a person is injured because the business was negligent. The phrase to remember is ‘The care that an ordinary, prudent person would use in the circumstance.’ That is standard the jury uses to determine if your business is responsible for someone’s injury.

Let us start in the same place the customer starts – the parking lot.

Uneven surfaces are a trip hazard. Sidewalks and parking lots need to be inspected and repaired regularly. As soon as you know of a problem, or should have known (another of my favorite courtroom phrases) the clock begins to run on when a reasonable person would have fixed it. Red cones or tape are wonderful and inexpensive ways to warn of known hazards awaiting repair.

If your business is open after dark, effective lighting is a must. Dark, uneven surfaces are what populate the dreams of plaintiff’s lawyers and the nightmares of defense counsel. Keep in mind that bad people use dark areas and shadows to be bad. Good lighting saves money.

If you know of a hazard, and reasonable person would expect it to be repaired, or at least a warning, then you must be that reasonable person and make the repair.

All that is good for the outside is also good for the inside. Clean up spills and breaks, warn in the interim and keep things smooth and level and you too can avoid the court room.

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