a row of multi-colored small business buildings in California

What do I do if a customer is injured at my business?

profile photo
By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

If a customer is injured at your business in California, it’s crucial to take appropriate and immediate steps to handle the situation responsibly and in accordance with California law. Here’s a general guideline on what to do if someone gets hurt on your business property.

1. Provide Immediate Assistance: Check on the customer and offer immediate assistance. If necessary, call for medical help. Do not attempt to provide medical care unless you are qualified to do so.

2. Ensure Safety: Make sure the area is safe for other customers and employees to prevent further accidents. If the incident involves a hazard (like a spill or a tripping hazard), address it promptly.

3. Document the Incident: Record details of the incident as soon as possible. This includes the time and date of the accident, a description of what happened, and any conditions that may have contributed to the injury. Always remember to take pictures of the scene and the hazard, if applicable.

4. Collect Witness Statements: If there were witnesses, collect their contact information and ask for their account of what happened. This can be valuable for insurance or legal purposes.

5. Report the Incident: Notify your business’s insurance company about the incident immediately. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, you may also need to report it to local authorities or regulatory agencies.

6. Avoid Admitting Fault: While it’s important to express concern, avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be interpreted as accepting liability. The cause of the incident should be determined through a formal investigation.

7. Cooperate with Insurance Companies: Provide all necessary information to your insurance company. They will handle most of the claim process, including communicating with the injured party or the injured party’s lawyer.

8. Follow Up: If appropriate, follow up with the injured customer to express your concern for their wellbeing. This can be an important part of maintaining good customer relations.

9. Review and Improve Safety Measures: After the incident, review your safety protocols to identify and correct any potential hazards. This might involve employee training, changes in procedures, or physical modifications on the property to prevent that from occuring again.

10. Legal Consultation: Consider consulting with a lawyer, especially if the injury is serious or if you expect there might be legal action. A lawyer can provide advice on how to proceed and represent your best interests.

Remember, each situation is unique, and the steps you take may vary based on the specifics of the incident. It’s always a good idea to have a clear plan in place for handling such situations before they occur.

What are some common injuries that happen to customers at a business?

Common injuries that happen to customers in businesses vary depending on the type of business and the environment. However, some types of injuries are more frequently reported across various business settings:

1. Slips, Trips, and Falls: These are among the most common accidents in businesses. They can be caused by wet floors, uneven surfaces, cluttered walkways, poor lighting, or loose carpets.

2. Falling Objects: In retail stores, customers can be injured by items falling from shelves. This can occur due to improper stacking, overcrowded shelves, or accidents.

3. Cuts and Bruises: These can happen in any business environment and may result from sharp edges on furniture or fixtures, broken items, or accidents involving business equipment.

4. Burns: In restaurants or cafes, customers might suffer burns from hot foods, beverages, or surfaces. Chemical burns can also occur in businesses that handle hazardous materials.

5. Food Poisoning: In the food service industry, improper food handling or storage can lead to foodborne illnesses.

6. Injuries from Equipment: In businesses like gyms, customers may be injured by malfunctioning equipment or by using equipment incorrectly.

7. Exposure to Harmful Substances: This could be relevant in businesses that use chemicals or other hazardous materials, leading to respiratory issues, skin irritation, or more serious health problems.

8. Physical Assault or Harm: Unfortunately, in some business environments, especially those open late at night or serving alcohol, customers might experience physical altercations.

9. Parking Lot Injuries: Customers can be injured in a business’s parking lot due to poor maintenance, insufficient lighting, or accidents.

10. Overexertion Injuries: In places like recreational facilities or adventure parks, customers might overexert themselves or sustain injuries while participating in activities.

Each type of business has its own set of risks, and it’s important for business owners to understand and mitigate these risks constantly to ensure customer safety. Regular safety audits and staff training can help reduce the likelihood of these common injuries.

What is the most common injury for customers in California businesses? 

In California, the most common injury to customers in business establishments, particularly stores, is due to slips, trips, and falls. These incidents often occur because of conditions like slippery floors, uneven or damaged flooring, cluttered aisles, or obstacles like wires and cords across walking paths. Additionally, customers can also be injured by falling objects, especially in retail settings where items may be improperly stacked or placed on high shelves.

When such injuries occur, the liability of the business depends on various factors. The business has a legal duty to provide a safe environment, which includes regularly inspecting the property for hazards, repairing known hazards, and warning of any dangerous conditions that are not immediately fixed. However, the responsibility also lies with customers to act reasonably and be alert to their surroundings. For instance, if a customer is injured because they were not paying attention to obvious hazards, or they were under the influence coming into the establishment; their own actions could possibly be considered a contributing factor to the accident.

In the event of an injury, it’s important for businesses to follow appropriate procedures, such as providing immediate assistance, documenting the incident, and reporting it to their insurance company. It’s also crucial for businesses to have adequate liability insurance to cover potential claims.

These general guidelines underscore the importance of maintaining a safe environment for customers and having appropriate response plans and insurance coverage in place.

Contact a California Personal Injury Lawyer

At J&Y Law Firm, we recommend seeking professional legal advice if a customer was hurt at your business. For further guidance or to discuss your specific case, contact J&Y Law Firm at (877) 426-6580, and our team of experienced attorneys will be happy to assist you.

author photo
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.