Injuries resulting from slip and/or trip and fall incidents is one of the more frequent reasons why customers assert claims against restaurants. Serious injuries such as broken bones, torn ligaments and even brain injuries can result from unsafe conditions in restaurants that establishments can easily avoid with proper training and policies. Unfortunately, many restaurants ranging from fast food places to high-end restaurants fail to take appropriate measures to maintain the safety of their floors, which can lead to serious injury. These failures are typical whether the business is owned by a sole proprietor or part of a large chain.
How can a restaurant protect the safety of its customers and avoid liability for slip and trip injuries? Here are some key tips to keep in mind and follow to avoid accidents and unnecessary lawsuits. These are the areas we look at when evaluating a potential case:
- Inspect the floor regularly to identify slip or trip hazards, especially in high traffic areas such as near the entrance, kitchen, bathrooms and bar. Don’t expect staff to conduct floor inspections while performing other duties. They will forget, they may do a haphazard job, or they may think someone else did it. Designate someone to conduct the inspection. That doesn’t mean the rest of the staff shouldn’t remain vigilant for hazards. This is a must-have best practice.
- Clean and/or sweep the floors regularly to remove hazards. Restaurants with tile floors should wash the floor at the end of every shift; this includes restrooms. Restaurants with carpeting should vacuum and clean restrooms regularly.
- Keep a posted schedule and log all cleanings. Retain these documents of floor inspections and “sweeps” so you can prove you conducted reasonable inspections and floor clearing in the event of an incident.
- Immediately clean or clear any spills or tripping hazards. If the hazard can’t be cleared immediately, place a warning sign or bright cones near the hazard so customers can easily notice the problem; this includes restrooms.
- Make sure all mats and rugs on the floor have beveled edges that lie flat and are designed for commercial use.
- Draft policies for your employee handbook that reflect the above points and make sure they’re provided to (and reviewed) with employees on a regular basis.
If you have an unfortunate accident in a restaurant, one of the first things you should do is take out your phone and take pictures of what caused the fall (or have someone else do it if you’re incapacitated). There may be lots of people taking pictures since it’s now an ingrained habit in this society. If so, ask them to stay near you and send you the pictures they have on their devices. Don’t move, even if you can, until the management witnesses the situation and has come to your aid. If the restaurant doesn’t call for or offer medical help, you can call for yourself or someone else can.
If the restaurant refuses in any way to rectify the situation, you can follow these steps.
- Speak with an attorney at Bohn & Fletcher. There’s no charge. In fact, we work on what’s called a contingency fee, which means we receive a percentage of the recovery we obtain for you as compensation. If we don’t recover any compensation for you, the representation we receive no fee for services.
- Give us as much information about your fall as you can, including any photos, drawings, or written documents, especially from the restaurant. Witness names and contact information is critical. Also be sure to keep records of all medical treatment and billing statements, as well as anything else you believe is pertinent.
- Let us work for your benefit so you can concentrate on healing.
With this information for both restaurants and their customers we hope to prevent incidents that result in injury to customers and litigation for businesses.