Business owners owe a duty of care to keep their premises clear of dangerous conditions. Visitors should remain confident they may patronize a business safely. The duty also extends to employees who hold a responsibility to identify and correct hazards.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration issues citations for hazards such as blocked exit doors and piled-up merchandise. Stacks of heavy boxes, for example, may topple over and cause serious harm to employees or visitors.
Retailers must repair dangerous conditions or warn customers of risks
Because obstacles often create dangerous conditions, employees owe a duty to clear boxes, clutter and debris from store aisles. Employees must also move merchandise away from electrical outlets and clean up spills.
If an area of a store has a hazard, the business must warn customers of its potential for accidents. Placing orange cones or signs directing customers away from a hazard generally fulfills the duty of providing ample warning.
A preventable accident causing injury to a customer results in a lawsuit
A poorly trained employee who causes an otherwise preventable accident that injures a customer could expose the business owner to a lawsuit. In a case reported by the Laredo Morning Times, a woman sued a big-box retailer after an employee slammed a shopping cart into a set of swinging doors that struck her.
When the swinging doors struck the shopper, she fell and sustained injuries requiring hospitalization. According to the complaint, the retailer should have trained the employee to open the doors safely. The complaint also noted a failure to provide a visible warning noting the doors’ known hazards.
Customers may file a lawsuit against a business when it fails to correct a dangerous condition or an employee causes them harm. Damages may include compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.