Even if your restaurant is in pristine condition and you diligently follow your written policies, accidents (and lawsuits) happen. Restaurants able to provide detailed documentation about an incident to their insurance claim professionals and attorneys can significantly bolster their own defense against a subsequent claim.

  • Offer Support/Sympathy to the Injured CustomerLet the customer know that you care. Many claims are the result of hard feelings from the injured party thinking that they are not being taken seriously by the restaurant employees. No matter how dubious the claim, make sure your employees take the time to listen to the customer.
  • Offer Medical AttentiontAdminister first aid. If the injury appears serious, and/or if a customer or employee asks for emergency medical services, do not hesitate to call an ambulance. Instruct employees in the procedures for assisting customers who may have slipped and fallen, including calling for emergency assistance where obvious, or when requested by injured customers.
  • InvestigationConducting a proper investigation and documenting the facts and circumstances surrounding the fall is important. A manager should speak with the injured customer, witnesses, and employees about the incident. Additionally, a manager should complete an incident report form, which should include the following information:
    • Date, time, and exact location of the incident;
    • Identification of witnesses, including contact information;
    • Details with regard to post-incident inspection of the area, including (i) who inspected the area, (ii) when the inspection took place, and (iii) what was seen at the time of the inspection; and
    • Identification of employees on duty at the time of the incident.

    This information is critical in addressing a claim that might not be brought for several years after the date of the incident.

  • Secure Photographic EvidenceBe sure to preserve any videotape which may have been taken by your surveillance cameras. Take photographs of the slip and fall area, and photos of the injured person, if you are able to do so.
  • Report the Accident to Your Insurance CompanyWhether you think the person who fell was seriously injured or not, contact your insurance company and advise them of the circumstances of the fall.
  • Follow Up With the Injured CustomerWithin 24 hours after the slip and fall, contact the injured customer. Let them know you are concerned about their well-being and ask if medical care was needed. Injured customers that think you care are less likely to bring a claim.
  • Preserve EvidencePreserve any evidence, such as a broken piece of machinery, tools, a broken tile, or torn floor mat. Do not attempt to conceal the evidence.

Joseph Kummer has extensive experience in representing restaurants in lease negotiations, liquor license hearings, construction contract negotiations, and litigation. He can be contacted at (303) 863-7700 or jkummer@jpfirm.law.

Disclaimer — Content is general information only. Information is not provided as legal advice, nor does its publication create an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice on a specific matter, consult an attorney.