Personal injury lawsuits often depend on proving a single factor: negligence. In a personal injury lawsuit, negligence is determined based on whether or not an injury was the result of someone else failing to abide by their “duty of care.” This duty of care varies from situation to situation.
In the case of an automobile accident, negligence may be the result of a driver texting while driving or otherwise not paying adequate attention. In the workplace, an employer’s negligence is often the result of poorly maintained equipment or a failure to provide or maintain proper safety gear. As a landlord or a building owner, negligence could arise out of a failure to maintain property, resulting in a fallen tree branch or a cracked walkway that leads to an injury.
Avoid Being the Defendant In a Personal Injury Lawsuit Due to Negligence
Here are 8 tips to prevent you, or your business, from be named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.
Follow traffic safety laws (e.g., don’t text and drive)
Car accidents are the most common type of incident resulting in a personal injury lawsuit. Following basic traffic safety laws is one of the best ways to avoid being named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. If a car accident occurs, but there is no evidence that you broke the law or otherwise were not paying attention, the chances of you being sued are greatly reduced.
Texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident and, as SFWeekly reports, texting while driving is also responsible for a notable increase in bicycle accident-related injuries and fatalities.
Maintain hardscaping/landscaping at your business
As a business owner, you have an obligation to maintain the building and its premises, and to keep the property free of known hazards or potential safety issues. If an employee, customer, or someone passing by is injured on or inside a place of business, and the cause of the injury was the result of a maintenance oversight, the business owner may be liable.
This includes things such as:
- Poorly marked or illuminated stairways
- Brittle branches or branches that obstruct walkways
- Cracked or raised areas of asphalt/pavement or paths/walkways
- Poorly marked entrance/exits or one-way routes
- Torn rug margins or area rugs with curled or raised corners/edges
- Doors with malfunctioning springs that slam back on customers
- Not providing clear, visible warnings of potential hazards (signage for wet/slippery conditions, bright spray paint on cracks that are scheduled for repairs, “watch your step/head” signage where necessary in older buildings, using corner mirrors to protect traffic flow around tight curves or corners, etc.)
In most of these types of personal injury cases, the owner of the building or business may not have been intentionally negligent, but their failure to properly maintain and/or repair the property will cost them just the same.
Prevent slip-and-fall accidents
We referenced some common causes of slip-and-falls above in #2. However, since slip-and-fall accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury claims due to negligence, they deserve a special mention. Do your utmost to prevent slip-and-fall accidents and always provide clear, bright, and legible warnings or signage until the issue is addressed.
Maintain commercial machinery, fleets and tools
Business owners and employers must maintain all commercial machinery, fleets, and tools as per the manufacturer’s instructions. For example, if a long-haul trucker is involved in an accident as the result of faulty brakes, an employer’s maintenance of such will be called into question.
Providing proof that your commercial equipment, machinery, auto/truck fleet, etc., have been maintained as per the manufacturers’ instructions is often all you need to remove “negligence” from the charges.
Follow medical protocol to the letter
If you are a physician or healthcare practitioner, you must follow medical protocol to the letter. Even with the most friendly and familiar of patients, failure to honor medical protocol for your particular healthcare niche, practice or office can put you at the center of a medical malpractice suit that is based on professional negligence.
All medical professionals, from physicians to nurses, aides, and the rest of the practice’s staff, must practice within the applicable “medical standard of care,” so there are not any loopholes available for the plaintiff’s lawyers to grab onto in a medical malpractice suit.
Sell defect-free products with proof of quality control (and recall suspect items ASAP)
It’s true that recalling items feels like a nightmare, yet it is essential to maintain your reputation as a brand with honesty and integrity. The ultimate goal is to use quality products or ingredients that are defect-free by using effective quality control practices. The minute a potential defect or issue is identified, take instant action and the necessary recourse to right any wrongs.
The public, and the courts, are typically forgiving when you have done your very best and have not squandered time or money trying to skirt quality issues or hide potential defects.
Get in touch with homeowners insurance carrier for a refresher
There is nothing worse than finding out you are at the center of a personal injury lawsuit and are being held “negligent” after a friend, guest, or uninvited visitor was injured inside your home or on the exterior of your property. Unfortunately, these types of personal injury lawsuits are all too common.
Your homeowner’s insurance carrier representatives are happy to walk through some of their most common and potential “negligence-based” personal injury lawsuits and will provide information on how to avoid them. Some of the most common ways you can protect yourself include pruning trees on your property that have branches that extend beyond the property line or could snap off and injure someone. Also, slip-and-falls on wet or icy walkways, stairs, or the driveway are often the cause of in-home injuries. Be sure to provide warnings about obvious potential hazards to all who enter your home.
Take “beware of dog” precautions seriously
While dog bites fall into the above category, #7, these types of injuries are common, and often severe, enough to deserve a tip of their own. If you own a dog that is prone to biting, is shy, or is a breed or mixed-breed that is known to be more aggressive, take extra precaution.
All dog owners should have clearly posted “beware of dog” signs on gates and fences. Dogs do not always behave the same when their owners are not present or when they are in “protection mode.” Even the most gentle dogs can become aggressive if they feel threatened and an owner often cannot predict when that might happen. Clear signage warning invited and uninvited guests of the presence of a dog eliminate at least part of the blame.
Additionally, you should:
- Keep your dog on a leash at all time when in public
- Make sure your yard is fenced or that the dog is secure in a run
- Maintain fence lines to prevent escape
Here in California, any compensation for a dog-bite injury will be reduced by a percentage equal to the plaintiff’s share of fault. This holds true even if the plaintiff was mostly to blame, so your ability to provide a warning, safely contain your dog, and have adequate restraints will notably reduce your share of fault in a worst-case scenario.
We’re Here For You
Are you a victim of a personal injury due to the negligence of another person? If so, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to support your claims process. Contact Burneikis Law. We are your trusted advocate when you need us most.