Can a Business Owner Be Held Liable When a Customer’s Mess Causes an Injury?

Business owners have a legal responsibility when it comes to maintaining a safe environment for its customers, visitors and invited guests. When a business owner fails in that responsibility, and a person is injured on the property, the owner or property manager can be held financially liable. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at another person’s business or on their property, you must be able to prove negligence on the part of the owner before you will be able to file any type of premises liability claim. What about when a customer’s mess is what causes the injury?

Liability in a Personal Injury Accident on a Business Site

Fault in a slip and fall or injury accident at a store, restaurant, office building, theatre or other place of business does not automatically fall with the business owner. In some instances, an accident can simply be just that, an accident. If one customer leaves a mess which causes another customer to be injured, who is liable? Is it the business owner? Is it the other customer?

While the customer’s mess in this scenario may have been responsible for causing another customer injury, liability has still must be investigated. If the business owner had no knowledge of the potential hazard, or no reasonable expectation that he or she should have been aware of the danger, then the injured party has no grounds to file a lawsuit or claim against the business. If the customer who left the mess had no ill-intent behind doing so, it is unlikely that party could be held liable.

Elements Which Must Be Proven in a Premises Liability Claim

To file a premises liability claim against a negligent business owner, you must have proof of each of the following:

  • The business owner owed a duty of care to you, the injured customer
  • A breach of that duty occurred, and
  • Your injury was directly caused by the breach.

Even if you are able to prove the business owner owed a duty of care to you, and that he or she failed to fulfill that duty, you are unlikely to win your case if it is necessary to prove that the injuries were a direct result of this breach. In the case of another customer’s mess causing your injury, it would be necessary to prove that the property owner was aware of the hazard and failed to remedy it.

What to Do If You Sustained Injury at a Place of Business

The first thing to do after sustaining injury at a place of business is report the accident to the business owner or manager. Do not lay blame or admit fault, simply report the facts. If you did not receive emergency medical care at the scene of your accident, go see your doctor right away for a medical evaluation and to be treated for your injuries.

You should also hire a skilled premises liability lawyer who can answer any questions you may have, advise you of your legal rights, determine whether you have a valid premises liability claim and if so, help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.

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