Every business owner struggles to limit their potential liabilities as much as possible, and that includes maintaining the premises in a way that is safe.
Despite your best efforts, however, accidents may still happen – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re actually responsible. If someone is injured on your property, it’s important to consider the following possible defenses:
There was a clear assumption of risk
When someone knows that there is a risk of an injury and still voluntarily assumes the danger, you can’t be expected to pay if they get hurt in the process. For example, if you operate a martial arts facility, it’s only reasonable for your students to recognize (especially if you’ve had them sign waivers) that a broken bone or other injuries are possible during sparring.
The actions of a third party weren’t easily foreseeable
If someone was attacked and beaten or otherwise injured on your property, they may claim that you failed to provide adequate security – but you cannot be held liable for an incident that was clearly out of the blue. For example, if there hadn’t been any robberies in your hotel before and no indication that the area you’re in is dangerous, it could be hard for someone to hold you accountable for what was likely a random, unpredictable act by a stranger.
There was no actual or constructive knowledge of the danger
This is one of the most common defenses because property owners can’t take steps to eliminate a danger if they don’t know it existed – and had no real opportunity to find out before the accident happened. For example, spilled soda on the floor of your convenience store is a legitimate problem, but if one customer spilled their drink just seconds before another customer slipped on it, that gave you no time to learn about the problem and take corrective action.
If you’re a property owner who feels that it’s unfair to be held liable for someone’s injuries for one reason or another, the wisest move you can make is to find out more about your available defenses. There may be far more possibilities than you realize.