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When is Your Business Liable for an Accident?

Running your own business is a dream come true for most aspiring entrepreneurs, but with great power comes great responsibility. While those employees stationed at the bottom of the totem pole enjoy the luxury of limited responsibility, a business owner will be held accountable in every instance of an accident, injury, or workplace mishap.

Assuming responsibility should be a first step in ensuring that you maintain a safe working environment for your employees, visitors, and customers. As a business owner, producing and manufacturing a line of safe products and offering quality services for your customers should be top priorities. Business reputation isn’t built based on the competitiveness of your business alone but is also based on the type of employees you choose to hire as part of your staff.

Employees and customers are the greatest business assets, and their safety should always stand at the forefront of a business owner’s focus. If an employee or customer sustains an injury during a workplace accident, you’ll be required to ensure their subsequent wellbeing. However, you should note that it is not all accidents that occur on-site will hold you, the business owner, liable. Click here to learn more about possible liability in an accident.

Most employees, especially those involved in the construction industry, are likely to experience a workplace accident firsthand. These accidents will force a company to assume responsibility if an accident can be tied to a business owner’s negligence or poor management. The most important step in understanding your liability in an on-site accident is to first understand who can be held liable in an accident claim filed by an employee.

Possible liable parties in accidents that occur on-location

Every business is a possible liable party in a business-related accident. Such liability can solely be assumed by your business, or it can involve several parties—depending on the relationship between the defendants.

If you operate in the construction industry, you already know that statistics conducted on a yearly basis prove that accidents in the construction industry occur more frequently in New York than any other major U.S. state.

Because the construction business structure often involves collaboration from multiple parties that come together to execute a single project, when an accident occurs, determining the liable party is usually the most challenging part. A typical construction project involves a building owner, general contractors, subcontractors, insurers, among many other trained personnel.  All such parties can be sued for injuries sustained by a worker, visitor, or client at the construction site.

Liability can be established once a legal representative proves that each of the parties involved was negligent and failed to adhere to the construction industry’s set of rules and regulations. While establishing liability at an individual-level can be simple, determining fault when there are several parties handling a single project can be difficult. Working with a lawyer trained in business-related accidents will help you alleviate tensions, understand your options, and explore the possible measures that can help minimize liability.

Damages likely to be recovered by a victim in work-related injuries

Most states in the United States require business owners to purchase workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In New York, for example, workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for every business. This insurance coverage covers all types of employees, including those employed on a part-time basis. The workers’ compensation insurance coverage accounts for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Compensation for temporary or permanent disability
  • Payment for caregiver services
  • Compensation of the estate of the employee in the event that the injuries sustained were fatal

Apart from your employees sustaining work-related injuries, there are some other types of accidents you should be wary of as a business owner.

Slips and falls by visitors

Your work environment is not only limited to your employees unless you have restrictions barring access to outsiders. Therefore, walk-in clients can still be victims of unexpected workplace accidents. If a customer visiting your business accidentally slips and falls on your wet or greasy floors, there is a chance that your business will be held liable for any injuries resulting from the slip and fall.

As the owner of the premises, you are obligated to ensure that your business environment is safe for all legal patrons. Slips and falls caused by slippery floors can easily leave you, the business owner, liable for negligence, as failure to clean a potentially hazardous floor is a blatant disregard for the safety of those who occupy your property. Even if you are to blame, reaching out to an attorney can help minimize your liability.

Injuries sustained from using your business products

Every product you release into the market should always include proper directions of use and meet the industry standards on quality. A consumer who is injured by your business’ products will always seek compensation from you, as the business owner.

In the event that the negligence of your business is confirmed, you will be held liable. The immediate steps you take once liability has been established will be the most influential in minimizing liability. Launching an immediate investigation into the state of the products and taking them off your shelves as soon as possible should be top priorities in your plan-of-action.

Final thoughts

Though the workplace accident may have been completely unintentional and free from any malice or ill-will, a company may still have to assume responsibility for the injuries an employee or customer sustained on-site. To avoid crippling fees, contact a lawyer right away, so you aren’t left to absorb the shock of thousands of dollars in damages.