When someone enters your retail establishment, there is an unspoken expectation that “common duty” has been taken and that they will be reasonably safe, but, despite the most careful procedures, accidents can happen. When it does, however, you need to be prepared. These are the top accidental claims made by patrons.

With all the food, drinks, and dishes being served and exchanged, it is inevitable that something may be spilled and if that item is not immediately cleaned up, we can have a very messy problem on our hands – a slip and fall. In your establishment, you are liable for sure. However, did you realize that you can also be liable if a patron is hurt outside your establishment as well? Like in a poorly lit car park, or on an uneven piece of sidewalk, that was not shoveled and piled high with snow or an icy sidewalk – and some of those injuries could be quite serious. A more obvious place to watch for slips and falls is the restroom. All the hand washing and dripping water with the wet countertops can only mean wet floors, the restroom could be hazardous. All these situations could result in broken bones and depending on how bad the fall is, even cause a concussion.

No one wants to think about a meal with all that yummy food being a hazard. But, with everything going on all at once and people running around in every direction, food and drinks are spilled every day and if it is not spilled on the floor, guess where it may end up – on the patron. Many a patron has been burned by hot food or drinks. And in cases such as these, there is also the risk of the dishes themselves injuring the patrons’ someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time or if a server holding a pile of dishes accidentally drops them on a patron. Seems improbable, not so much, it actually happened to me and all the drinks went down my back – I was very cold and very sticky!

Talking about falling, when dishes fall, what happens to them, if they don’t fall on a patron? They have to fall somewhere right? And when they fall they break. And broken dishes result in splinters – and those splinters and broken dishes can cut. They might produce small bits sometimes, but those small bits can cause serious cuts and if you’ve ever broken a plate or glass at home, you will know what I’m talking about. Those splinters can be downright evil and can even result in stitches!

Then there is the patron claiming illness after eating a meal, as mentioned in the recent New Jersey E. coli incident. This is nothing to laugh at though, and food poisoning or a reaction to a food because of allergy, is real. Keeping your cooking area clean and avoiding cross-contamination will go a long way to avoid this one. But in some instances, it could be that you received contaminated food to begin with, but the patron is your concern here the rest will have to be taken care of later.

Since accidents can happen no matter how careful we are, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Take the time to talk to your insurance agent about your company’s insurance coverage and whether it’s adequate for your needs and can your agent should also be able to help you identify and mitigate risks in your business.