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

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.

Liability and a Drug-Free Workplace

Liability and a Drug-Free Workplace

drug-free-workplaceThe competitive environment in which we live and work can tempt many business owners to cut corners to ensure they can keep their products and services competitively priced. Some things simply should not be cut, however, because they elevate the employer’s risk while only reducing the overhead marginally. A case in point is the importance of maintaining a drug-free workplace.

Even in today’s highly competitive marketplace, making sure that your employees are drug free and sober on the job is of paramount importance. Drug testing isn’t required in every industry, but regardless of the bottom line, if you want your business to thrive, you need to be confident that your employees are drug free.

Avoiding Liability

The number one reason given by business owners for mandatory drug testing is that it helps them avoid legal liability. The liability extends to co-workers as well as customers and clients. If an employee is intoxicated and causes harm to another person, or damages property, the business owner can be legally liable. So, when a business owner requires drug testing, it helps him weed out troublesome employees, thus mitigating the potential for problems. However, requiring drug tests to avoid liability issues will only work if you know the laws related to the process. Otherwise, you could be looking at a whole new set of liabilities.

Legal Limits

Drug testing has been recognized by various United States courts as an action that invades the privacy rights of citizens. As such, limitations have been placed on how and when an employer can require a current or potential employee to submit to a drug test.

Overall, those with the most rights are current employees since they could potentially lose their job if a drug test came back positive. Job applicants, however, only lose out on a job opportunity. Since the courts have fought to find a balance between individual and business rights, there are a few limitations that could apply to you and your business if you require drug testing. For example, the most commonly known laws related to drug testing revolve around prescription medication. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, employers are not legally allowed to discriminate against someone who takes a legally prescribed medication that would otherwise be illegal.

Another example of legal protection related to employment drug testing is the act of requiring a specific group of people to be tested for drugs, while forgoing the requirement for others. If an employer only tested his Catholic employees, for example, he would be in violation of discrimination laws. An exception to this rule can be made if the employer requires drug testing for everyone who serves a specific role (ex: delivery drivers). It would not be considered discrimination if the same employer chose not to test the office staff.

 

The above are general scenarios associated with limits on drug testing. If you have a concern about a specific situation, and whether or not you are legally allowed to drug test someone, contact your state’s labor department.