Don't Let a Slip and Fall Lawsuit Derail Your Business / Insurance / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

A slip and fall at your place of business can cost a lot of unwanted costs. Here's a lowdown on why small businesses need liability...

You have all the elements necessary for a successful business -- a great product at the right price, a profitable location, and enough funding for marketing. You've even thought of insurance -- your commercial property policy protects the building from all sorts of calamities, even vandalism. What could go wrong?

Plenty! Suppose a customer or supplier slips and falls on your premises? Are you prepared for the consequences?

For clowns, slipping and falling can be comedy. But for business owners, slipping and falling can result in high drama -- particularly when the victim decides to sue. The average cost of a slip, trip or fall-related accident in the workplace is nearly $24,000, according to the National Safety Council (Tweet This!). How high can the cost go? It depends on how badly the person is injured and how vigorously the victim (or his or her lawyer) pursues the case.

Related:Why Even a Small Business Needs Workers' Compensation Coverage

The implications could be bigger than you think. The business could be on the hook for the victim's medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and his or her pain or suffering. Those expenses can add up quickly and bankrupt not only the business, but its owners as well.

Luckily, business owners can take precautions against such consequences. It's called general business liability insurance.

General business liability insurance

Sure, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of a slip-and-fall incidents. You can keep floors clean and free of obstacles, and you can make sure there's adequate lighting. You can wipe up spills immediately and place signs in various places to alert visitors any hazards.

But no matter how careful you -- and your employees -- are, you can't completely eliminate the possibility of someone slipping on your premises and filing a lawsuit. You can, however, make sure you have help when this happens.

General business liability insurance protects your business by helping with its legal defense in slip-and-fall lawsuits, as well as settlements or awards in such cases. How much does it cost? According to the Small Business Administration, annual premiums range from $750 to $2,000 depending on your business' operations and coverage requirements (Tweet This!).

Related:Business Liability Insurance. Why Are Your Rates So High?

Coverage can be purchased in a standalone policy or as part of a Business Owner's Policy, which includes property insurance.

How else can liability insurance help?

Business general liability insurance also offers coverage for advertising injury, including slander and libel, as well as copyright claims.  Property damage that your company or its employees may have caused also is covered.

Curious about how to better protect your business? You may be interested in more in-depth liability coverage. Many business owners also may need professional liability insurance or commercial auto insurance.

Related:Don't Crash and Burn by Forgetting About Commercial Auto Insurance

Additionally, a business umbrella policy will increase your limits for liability insurance. Most start with coverage limits of $1 million and increase in $1 million increments. A business umbrella policy will kick in when you've exhausted the limits of your other business liability policies.

What if an employee slips and falls?

Most states require businesses with multiple employees to purchase worker's compensation insurance. If an employee slips and falls or is otherwise injured on the job, this can cover the medical and rehabilitation costs of your employees, as well as helping to replace lost wages. Workers compensation typically protects the business from being sued by the employee, but in the cases when a lawsuit is permitted, it can cover legal expenses.

You can't guarantee that customers, clients, and employees won't slip and fall in your business. But getting proper insurance can help make sure your company doesn't slip too.

Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley is the editor of

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