There are always risks to running a business, but we don’t always think about the risk of liability for employee or customer injury. Someone getting injured at your storage facility due to company negligence could cost a lot of money and set your business back, so let’s look at the right way to address accidents before, and after, they happen.
General Liability Insurance
You need general liability insurance for your storage facility. If someone gets hurt on your property and it’s found that your business was at fault, your liability insurance pays for the medical care and recovery.
The U.S. government has information to help you get the right insurance for your facility on their SBA Government General Business Liability Insurance site.
The good news is that general liability insurance is affordable, and can cost as little as $1,000 per year per facility.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance
The same company you use for general liability insurance probably also sells workers’ compensation insurance, and you’ll need this as well. The former covers non-employees, such as visitors and tenants, and the latter covers your employees. Workers’ comp, as it’s often called, pays employees disability payments while they’re unable to work, which is about two-thirds of their regular salary, and pays the medical expenses for their injuries.
Before we get into a bit more detail on steps to take when someone gets hurt, let’s talk about safety.
Keeping your facility safe means things like ensuring there are safeguards against fire, that your facility is clean, that the floors aren’t wet, that the pavement is smooth without potholes, and so on. Chemicals, heavy equipment, and other factors can hurt employees and customers.
If something on your property could cause harm, put up a sign warning employees and customers and keep that sign up until the issue is resolved. This can reduce or negate any liability on your part. This could be as simple as a “Caution: Wet Floor” cone if you just mopped the floor.
Make sure there are safety manuals available for anything potentially dangerous, and procedures are written down for things like driving the golf truck, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning out empty lockers, and so on. Train your new employees on safety procedures and periodically run training sessions to remind everyone of your procedures.
With general liability insurance, liability for an accident must be determined. If your facility is found liable for a customer’s or visitor’s injuries due to an accident, then your liability insurance kicks in. If you are not found liable, then they need to go to their own insurance for coverage.
Workers’ compensation is a little different. In general, the employer assumes responsibility for all worker injuries. However, if the injured worker accepts the coverage, they wave the right to sue the company for more. So, it exists to keep your workers covered while on the job and to protect your company from costly lawsuits.
Those are the basics. Let’s now look at the steps to take when someone gets hurt on your property.
From Injury to Coverage
Require that employees report injuries immediately. When you learn that an employee or guest has suffered an injury, follow these steps.
Get medical attention right away by calling 911. This will give them the best chance of a speedy and safe recovery, and can lessen your liability.
Something small, such as a mild cut or scrape, may simply require treating the injury with a first aid kit.
Never ignore the problem. This reflects badly on your company and can lead to legal trouble— not to mention unnecessary suffering for the injured party.
Once the person has received medical attention and is stable, it’s time to start handling paperwork.
If the injured party is an employee, follow these steps:
1. Have them file a workers’ compensation claim.
2. Report the injury to the company that handles your workers’ comp insurance. 3. Review surveillance footage and examine the area where the accident happened. Do you see any safety concerns there you need to address? If so, document them, then fix the problem.
4. File an employer’s report.
The claims accessor for your insurance company will then determine if your employee will get workers’ compensation. A claim can take up to 90 days, and it’s important to keep on top of it.
If the injured party is a customer, follow these steps:
1. Examine the area where the accident happened to determine if a hazard exists.
2. Even if this shows you are liable, photograph the area and document it.
3. Once it is photographed and documented, block off the area and get it fixed immediately.
4. Get witness testimony and a report from the customer.
5. Notify your liability insurance with the collected information.
Hopefully the customer will be willing to simply work with your insurer. They may decide to sue, however, and in that case, you’ll work with both your insurance and your company lawyers.
It all boils down to this. Keep your facility as clean and safe as possible, get liability and workers’ compensation insurance, get medical help immediately for anyone who gets hurt on your property, and take the right follow-up steps afterward. Safety will keep accidents and liability to a minimum.