What is a Business’ Duty of Care to its Customers?

business customer

If you run a business where you welcome customers onto your property, then you have a duty to provide for the safety of your customers. This is called duty of care, where the premise is that if a customer comes to your property, then they are kept from injury within a standard of reasonableness.


What is a Standard of Reasonableness?

When you run a business such as a restaurant or a shop where customers are in and out of your property, then you need to ensure that they are safe from injury while they are there.

However, it is impossible to prevent all injuries. So, the law has created what is called a standard of reasonableness. These are a set of regulations that a company or a business needs to follow so that injury to customers is minimized when they are on their property.

While each state has its variations on the standard of reasonableness, here are some that common across the board:

  • Your business needs to have a procedure where your business premises are regularly inspected for any defects that could cause harm to customers.
  • Your business premises should be cleaned regularly to prevent slip-and-fall injuries.
  • There should be warning signs where the floors are wet so that customers are aware of the danger.
  • Ensure that there is a doormat near the entrance on rainy or snowy days so that there is no accumulation of water inside your business premises, which could lead to customer injury.
  • All cracks or damage to pavements near your business’s entranceway should be repaired immediately.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so it would be a good idea for you to check the standard of reasonableness for your state to make sure that you are protected.


Breach of Duty of Care

If you have not adhered to the standards of reasonableness and a customer is injured on your premises, you could be faced with a breach of duty lawsuit.

Let’s take an example. You run a restaurant. A customer who is visiting your restaurant slips on some soup that was spilled on the floor. This could be construed as a breach of duty that could lead to a lawsuit if the injury is severe enough.

A personal injury lawyer will argue that you may not have created a cleaning schedule as required by the standard of reasonableness. Or that you did create a schedule but did not follow stringently. Or that an employee had noticed the spilled soup and had not gotten around to cleaning it. Whatever be the case, you end up being responsible for the injury sustained by your customer.

Each of these situations is a breach of duty of care according to the standard of reasonableness.


Consequences of Breach of Duty of Care

The consequences of a breach of duty of care can be quite dire, especially for small businesses. If the customer’s personal injury lawyer is able to adequately prove that you were negligent in your duty towards keeping your customer reasonable safe, you could end up paying a lot in damages.

Besides handing out a crippling blow to your finances, such a lawsuit could harm your reputation irrevocably. And if your business is a small one or a new one, this could shut you down.

Thus, it would be a good idea to go through all the regulations concerning the duty of care and the standard of reasonableness in your city so that you are not faced with a lawsuit and damage to your reputation.