Because a business expects to consistently have customers coming and going out of the physical space they provide, the law does impose some affirmative duties on them to make sure people are not injured when conducting normal, foreseeable activities. As a general rule, a business is going to be held responsible for most injuries that occur on their property aside from clear cases of trespassing or criminal activity.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is the concept that a business owner can be sued any foreseeable injuries that occur during normal use of their property. This sounds like a simple concept, but the facts present in some real lawsuits that have occurred over years demonstrate how complex liability issues can be.
An important aspect of premises liability is that an owner needs to keep areas free from hazards for all anticipated activities. In other words, in most situations all entrances and areas where people are going to be moving around and walking should be kept clear of debris, liquids, dangerous objects, or anything else that could cause injuries. Another example would be that a restaurant should maintain a safe, clean dining area and minimize the risks of injury or illness that result from people entering, exiting, and consuming food, as these are the type of activities that customers would be expected to engage in.

Customer files a lawsuit after falling off a statue in a restaurant 
One restaurant case in Florida involved a woman who fell off of a donkey statue at a Mexican Restaurant and sustained severe injuries. The victim alleges that she was climbing the statue to have her picture taken, which the proprietors openly encouraged, when she fell and suffered a spine fracture along with other medical problems that required extensive treatment. The lawsuit seeks approximately $15,000 for the medical costs related to the accident and alleges that the restaurant was negligent for failing to identify the statue as a hazard or give any kind of warnings to guests.
A primary issue in such a lawsuit would be if the owners knew of the fact that people routinely interacted with the statue, yet they made no efforts to ensure that the area was safe, or restrict access to it if hazards existed. Although the facts of this incident seem strange, the restaurant will likely be found to have a duty of care to this plaintiff as long as they did in fact know about guests interacting with the donkey, and encouraged people to take pictures while climbing onto the statue. This would probably sufficient evidence for them to have a responsibility to ensure the area around the statue is safe for guests or at least provide warnings related to any potential risks, because injures are foreseeable.
As a business owner, it may be a good idea to contact a lawyer to sort out any of these potential issues before an accident happens. As the previous story demonstrates, lawsuits can emerge from some fairly absurd circumstances, but the possibility of losing thousands of dollars can destroy an unprepared business. A discussion with a lawyer who specializes in premises liability and related issues can help provide a clear defense when a lawsuit happens. Some minor legal precautions may also be worth thousands or millions of dollars in savings at a later time.
Talk to a lawyer about your business property today
If you are interested in making sure your business stays safe for guests so that you can avoid premises liability lawsuits, contact Gabriela C. Novo today. Gabriela is a former prosecutor who has handled all kinds of legal matters in the South Florida area.