How To Handle A Workplace Incident
In your profession, your clients’ health and safety are in your hands. And because of the standards established for your business, you’re responsible for providing the best client interactions possible, both in expertise and ethical conduct. Unfortunately, regardless of you and your employees’ work ethic and commitment to providing excellent service to each and every client, sometimes unexpected things happen. If a client is unhappy with their experience, or they claim someone acted inappropriately during their visit, they could file a claim against your business, whether warranted or not.
Even seemingly minor incidents or frivolous comments can turn into a claim down the road. No one expects to be in a situation where their company’s expertise and professional judgment are in question, but allegations and claims of negligence are quite common, so it’s best to be prepared.
Below are the recommended steps you should take to properly handle an incident if you are made aware of an incident that could potentially lead to a professional liability claim:
Provide Immediate Medical Help
Always administer first aid to an injured person and call 911 immediately if the injury warrants emergency assistance. Encourage the injured person to seek additional medical treatment to help ensure the injury doesn’t cause other medical problems in the future.
Don’t Admit Guilt or Liability
You should never admit to any wrongdoing or declare your responsibility for an injury or accusation. Don’t commit to “making things right” to the injured party (i.e., offering to pay for medical bills) but rather, tell the client that you will contact your insurance company. Do not discuss details of your insurance coverage with the injured party or anyone else.
Contact Your Insurance Agent/Administrator
When you notify the insurance agent of an incident as soon as you are made aware of a serious client complaint, it allows for the claim, or potential claim, to be managed in the most efficient way possible, saving time and money for both you and the insurance company. Often the insurance company can intervene and, in many cases, prevent a lawsuit from ever going to trial.
Document the Incident Immediately
Part of your professional best practices should be to keep precise documentation of all your client interactions. If an incident occurs during a client visit, write down your detailed interpretation of what happened, and do so immediately to help ensure accurate reporting of what happened. A delay in recording the facts could make it difficult for you or your employees to clearly recall the details later on. If any witnesses were present at the time of the incident, ask them to make a report from their viewpoint as well. Make sure this type of documentation is part of your employee training.
If you’ve followed protocol and taken detailed notes of your client appointments, you’ll have copies available to provide to your insurance agent/administrator. Do not give copies of any documentation to any party other than your insurance and legal representatives. Likewise, do not discuss a claim with anyone else.
Keep in Touch
Perhaps the most important step in handling an incident is to stay in contact with the client. If your company is associated with an accusation of malpractice, negligence or misconduct, don’t ignore the situation. Staying in appropriate contact with the client will go a long way in showing your concern for them and their recovery, and can help to diffuse their desire to lay blame.
Your industry is full of challenges. High standards of training and hands-on experience, coupled with professional certification, will guide you and your staff in providing outstanding service to your clients and help to prevent unforeseen incidents. But if one does occur, knowing how to properly handle the situation will be to your advantage in the long run.
The best protection against unexpected claims is a Professional Liability Insurance policy for your business. A Professional Liability Insurance policy from Lockton Affinity is tailored for the specific needs of your profession, and provides the comprehensive coverage you need to protect your business assets and reputation.