Slips, trips, and falls: Claim mitigation

To some businesses, such as retail establishments, it may seem obvious that preventing slip, trip, and fall accidents at the premises is important to the livelihood of the business. Preventing slips, trips, and falls of visitors to your business is as important as keeping your residents from falling. Preventing falls is of primary importance but having a plan in place to mitigate damages AFTER a fall is also extremely important.

A thorough accident and injury prevention plan not only helps prevent falls through inspections, maintenance, training, and warnings but also provides businesses with the necessary due diligence processes to reduce the potential for large jury awards in the event of a lawsuit. The following program is intended to help businesses manage this common loss exposure. The following tools can be used by all businesses from the in home child care provider to the largest of commercial Community Action Agencies. It is important that businesses take responsibility for mitigating damages early in the process to allow for legal defense teams to succeed in the defense or settlement of the claim.

Since slip, trip and fall accidents cost insurance companies millions of dollars annually and cost businesses money in the form of increased premiums a two tiered approach to address the problem is recommended. Slip, trip, and fall accident prevention techniques and post-accident control measures are both part of an effective strategy to address this significant liability exposure.

Prevention techniques:

  1. Businesses should conduct regular inspections of the property and building checking all areas where the public will walk to assure they are maintained in a safe manner. When inspections reveal problems the deficiencies should be corrected as soon as possible. Documentation of inspections needs to be maintained to prove due diligence in accident prevention efforts.
  2. Businesses should maintain good housekeeping throughout the premises both indoors and outdoors. In colder climates during winter loss prevention efforts should address ice exposures.
Post-accident control measures:
  1. Accidents, no matter how minor, should be investigated promptly to document information vital to a thorough investigation.
  2. Facts and findings should be documented to preserve evidence that will be important to the investigation and potential defense of a claim. Photographs should be taken of accident areas to provide documentation of where the accident occurred. This may ultimately help in the defense of the claim if the photograph taken on the day of the accident proves no hazardous condition existed or provides other documentation useful in the claim defense.

 

We recommend if you do not already have an accident prevention program in place that you utilize this information to assist in program implementation.

  1. Self-Inspection Checklist
  2. Inspection Records
  3. Deficiency Correction Reports
  4. Accident Investigation Guidelines

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.

For safety or risk management questions or suggestions, please contact Markel.

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