Most states demand that businesses, regardless of size, take every reasonable action to keep their premises safe for employees and visitors. The definition of visitors is fairly loose. Basically, it is anyone not employed by the business and covered by its workmen’s compensation insurance policy.
This means that clients, customers, delivery persons, repair persons, outside maintenance contractors and anyone who comes to the business premises needs protection from foreseeable dangers.
There are different types of people who come into a business and each has a different level of required care for its class of visitors.
This is a person whose invitation is explicit (by appointment, for example) or implicit (a customer looks at the goods and services for sale in a shop). A business owner’s duty to an invitee is to exercise ordinary care and make the property generally safe without any dangerous conditions.
A licensee in not an invitee or trespasser. An example of a licensee is a party who enters the premises for their own convenience or gratification. Think of a person ducking into your entryway to avoid the rain. The duty of care is far less than for an invitee, and the business is only liable to a licensee for willful and malicious harm.
This group of people enter the premises lacking an implicit or explicit invitation. They come on the business property for their own enjoyment or benefit. The only duty of a business owner is a negative one – the business cannot build any mantraps the willfully and maliciously causes a trespasser harm. Many states have an exception to this limited responsibility; if the business anticipates, suspects or knows of the presence of a trespasser it must exercise ordinary care and avoid inflicting injury on a trespasser through any kind of active negligence.
Common Workplace Visitor’s Injuries
Slip and Fall Accidents
These are the largest cause of visitor injuries. Injuries happen when a visitor trips, slips or falls and suffer injuries. These accidents often stem from things such as uneven floorboards, electrical extension cords crossing aisles or doorways, spills or liquids on the floor, and poorly installed carpet or carpeting that has tears or rips.
It is normal that businesses have a duty to their invitees to make sure they are safe from foreseeable. A business is liable for the criminal acts of a non-employee when the business fails to keep the premises safe from criminal activity. Usually claims of negligent security stem from places such as:
- Parking garages
- Apartment complexes
Businesses in high-crime areas (a parking garage in such an area needs adequate lighting, video cameras and warning signs that video surveillance is ongoing, and other security measure as needed.
This is a legal doctrine that applied mostly to children, even if they are trespassers. Hotels with outdoor pools need adequate fencing, a pool cover, locks and lighting, as the pool is attractive for kids to try to use after trespassing.
Defective Property Conditions
Businesses are often liable for dangerous or defective conditions. These include faulty elevators, faulty escalators, crumbling stairways and more.
Speak with your business insurance advisor about these risks and how to protect yourself, your business and employees from legal liability for them.