Dealing with a legal problem is one of the most stressful things that a business owner can experience. Aside from its potentially adverse effects on your restaurant’s reputation, facing a legal issue or lawsuit is costly and time-consuming.
No restaurant owner on this Earth wants to face problems with the law. However, that doesn’t change the fact that restaurants are susceptible to legal issues, mainly due to the fast-paced environment.
Here are the most common legal issues that restaurants face and how to avoid them:
1. Health code issues
Small business lawyers often deal with cases related to health and safety concerns, which usually arise from carelessness in food and drink handling. Such cases are typically associated with food poisoning and cross-contamination, which can lead to varying levels of food-borne illness.
Avoiding this type of legal issue simply requires adherence to health and safety regulations for restaurants. And if you want to avoid being known as the restaurant with dirty food, you would want to ensure that your establishment follows all the guidelines.
Slip-and-falls, or more formerly known as premises liability claims, are the most common kind of legal trouble for business owners, including restaurateurs. If the fall occurs because of the restaurant owner’s negligence, they can be liable for the injuries resulting from the accident.
Preventing slip-and-falls is not always easy, given that a restaurant is a fast-paced environment. However, taking proper precautions can effectively minimize the risk of this type of accident:
- Train staff to clean spills immediately
- Remove tripping hazards, e.g., torn carpeting, uneven floors, icy steps, etc.
- Equip stairways and landings with handrails
- Install slip-resistant flooring in risky areas, e.g., near frying vats, sinks, etc.
- Ensure adequate lighting in walkways, hallways, etc.
3. Permits and licenses
The permits and licenses that you need depend on your local laws and regulations. The process of obtaining these permits and licenses can be incredibly complex, especially if you are new to the industry. However, failing to secure even just one can lead to nasty consequences.
To avoid running into legal problems, secure all required permits and licenses before opening up your bar or restaurant. In any case, you don’t want to get caught operating without complete documents.
4. Employment law problems
Before opening a restaurant, you must be well versed in the various employment laws in place. Otherwise, you can run into legal issues such as wage or discrimination lawsuits–even if the fault is unintentional. Review the employment laws in your area and make an active effort to follow them.
5. Inadequate or improper insurance
Restaurants need several types of insurance policies, such as property insurance, liquor liability insurance, liability insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance, among others. If you have inadequate and improper coverage, a lawsuit might cause your business to fail.
Many restaurants, especially newly opened ones, are just one devastating lawsuit away from bankruptcy. And while restaurants are highly susceptible to lawsuits, owners need to be proactive in preventing any legal problems.
If you want to protect your restaurant from legal issues, start by learning about the most common ones that affect restaurant owners–and take active steps in preventing them from happening to you.