As an Ohio personal injury attorney, one of the issues that often comes up is what duties does a business owner (who has a financial interest in customers being on the property) owe to customers. In other words, what does a business owner have to do to make sure that the customers who visit the premises remain safe and do not become injured. Under Ohio law, the general duty that a Defendant business owner owes to customers is as follows.
A business owner’s duty to protect its customers from harm is predicated on the owner’s superior knowledge of a specific condition that threatens injury. Debie v. Cochran Pharmacy-Berwick, Inc. (1967), 11 Ohio St.2d 38; McGuire v. Sears, Roebuck & Co. (1996), 118 Ohio App.3d 494, 497; Kolsto v. Old Navy, Inc., 1st Dist. No. C-030739, 2004-Ohio-3502. The business owner has a duty only to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn its customers of any unreasonably dangerous conditions of which it either has knowledge or should have knowledge. Perry v. Eastgreen Reality Co. (1978), 53 Ohio St.2d 51, 53. The normative aspect of this requirement precludes a business owner from using willful ignorance to escape liability. The business owner has a duty to inspect the premises to discover possible unsafe conditions previously unknown to it, and to take reasonable precautions to protect its customers from dangers that are reasonably foreseeable in their use of the premises. Id.; Stinespring v. Natorp Garden Stores, Inc. (1998), 127 Ohio App.3d 213, 216. All of the foregoing law was summarized in Thompson v. Park River Corp. (2005), 161 Ohio App. 3d 502, 513
In sum, business owners in Ohio have the duty to “inspect and make safe.” If a business owner breaches this duty, and an injury results, the victim may be entitled to make a claim for compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and emotional distress. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to assist in making such a claim to see to it that the client is properly compensated.