Let’s do a brief thought experiment. You are a new entrepreneur, you have just opened an innovative retail store to sell your shiny widgets and the world is at your feet. Your dream of success, burnished by years of arduous work, has you at the top of the world, and without having had any workplace accidents.
Then, a customer falls in your new store. Although the personal damage seems minor, they are sent to the hospital via ambulance. By the time they are checked out and released from care, they have already been contacted by multiple lawyers and more phone calls and emails wait for them when they get home.
No matter how minor the injuries were, the attorney’s dangle a huge payday in front of their potential customer’s eyes and convince them that you were negligent. Now, instead of enjoying the fruits of your hard labor, you are forced to deal with lawsuits and the damage to your reputation.
In our increasingly litigious society, these are common occurrences. Ask anyone who has been in an automobile accident, within minutes of the accident being reported, they are being bombarded with ads and emails from personal injury lawyers.
So, as a new or potential business owner, what can you do about it? Here are 4 things small business owners should do to minimize the damage of accidents:
1. Make Sure Your Business is a Safe Place
You should be doing this anyway, but it bears repeating. The best way to avoid litigation is to avoid preventable accidents. Mark and clean up spills. Fix broken equipment and promote safe workplace practices.
Preventable accidents, such as slip-and-fall incidents, can usually be prevented by training your employees to be aware of their surroundings and keep their workplace safe. Not all accidents can be prevented but preventing even one can mean the difference between success and costly litigation.
2. Have a Safety and Inspection Program in Place
One of the best ways to make sure that safety is paramount to your employees is to have a safety program in place and adhered to. Let your employees and customers know that their safety is one of your top priorities.
3. Document Everything
Accidents happen and that is truly unfortunate for everyone involved, but for your business’s security you need to document everything about an accident as quickly as possible. Of course, discretion is important and you must keep the concerns and safety of the victim uppermost in your concerns.
Within that concern, however, you should do everything you can to get an accurate record of what happened and how. Comprehensive accident/incident report forms can and should be used to get as much information as possible.
4. Have your own Personal Liability Attorney
No one knows personal liability law as well as those who practice it. Knowing or having a personal injury attorney on some form of retainer can mitigate the worst effects of a lawsuit. Knowing what lawyers are doing is worth its weight in gold for your peace of mind.
A personal injury attorney can also help you craft a defense in the event you are filed suit against. Business lawyers rarely have the knowledge or insight to successfully prevent a suit or win one when it has been filed. When you need an expert in personal injury law, you should hire a personal injury lawyer.
In truth, accidents are inevitable and no matter how safe you make your retail or work spaces accidents can happen. If the accident can be blamed on you or your company you are open to litigation. By taking the right steps prior to the accident and immediately following it, you can lessen your chances of being successfully sued.