What happens at your facility when an incident or injury occurs? Some of the answers may seem obvious: you care for the injured participant or member, you notify your insurance company by completing and filing an incident report, and you follow up with the victim to make certain they are okay. These are important responses by you and your staff – they demonstrate your care and are a big part of the reason why people embrace the organization. Some of the other things that need to be done after such events may not be as self-evident but they are possibly crucial during the follow-up and life of a potential claim.
Retention of evidence can be a very significant factor in how a claim is settled and whether there is potential for subrogation from other parties, e.g., the owners and manufacturers of involved equipment and their insurers, owners of utilized premises and their insurers, or service providers and their insurers. Lack of retention can reduce the defense potential when the organization was not at fault.
If an incident occurs that causes injury, possible injury, or damage to property and involves a product, piece of equipment, or other item that may have physically failed, malfunctioned, broken, popped, etc., take that item out of service until a claims adjuster contacts you and explains what further actions you should take. If the item must be repaired and placed back into service, keep all replaced or repaired components and all records of or receipts for repair until the adjuster gives you further instructions. Failure to properly retain damaged evidence may jeopardize the claim, defeat the potential for subrogation, or create adverse legal implications, depending on the circumstances of the incident.
So what should you do when a piece of equipment breaks and causes injury to someone? After dealing with the person’s injuries and seeing to their well-being, you should…
The most important thing to do following an incident is to provide appropriate care for all involved individuals. When all medical issues are addressed the equipment should be secured and statements should be taken from all involved individuals and witnesses. Then necessary reports can be completed, ancillary items collected, and your insurance carrier notified. Your insurer will provide guidance and assistance with any further steps. You should, of course, follow-up with any injured party to show your concern.
The above information is just as important when there is damage to property without injury – photo documentation, preventing evidence damage or spoilage, etc. assist in the adjustment of the claim and preserve subrogation rights.