Employee personal injury claims are the largest, most damaging losses that any company can face. The average cost of an employment lawsuit is around $200,000.
According to the Liberty Mutual 2019 workplace safety index, in the United States, workplace injuries cost companies over $1 billion per week. Protecting your business against litigation should be a top priority.
Minimizing Risk of Lawsuits
It’s first important to understand the types of claims that you may encounter as an employer:
- Hazardous material
- Hazardous work environment
- Accidents involving vehicles or machinery
If you are a business owner, each and every day you are susceptible to being sued. Having very strict safety and health policies will not completely prevent work accidents that lead to personal injury lawsuits.
So let’s take a look at how to prevent the most common types of lawsuits. The National Safety Council publishes data every year on work-related Injuries and fatalities.
These are by far the most common workplace injuries, and since they can be quite serious, they can also be very expensive. Industries that are most at risk include construction, water and waste management, transportation, and storage.
The victim can sustain injury to their back, head, limbs or neck and spinal cord which can lead to lifelong disability resulting in major payouts and insurance premium hikes. In the worst-case scenario, a serious trip-and-fall can lead to death and a wrongful death lawsuit.
Nobody wants to see employees get hurt, so taking the time to minimize the possibility of injury is of paramount importance to every business owner. Being vigilant means clearing cluttered walkways, wiping up spills immediately, and clearing icy sidewalks. Doing regular inspections to ensure that guardrails are in place, stairsteps are sturdy, and lighting is adequate is advised.
Some industries are dangerous by default because the employee has to handle hazardous material. Accidental toxin ingestion and chemical burns can cause internal bodily damage and disfiguration.
Breathing fumes, contact with skin, or accidental ingestion can result from working with toxic chemicals. Brain damage is not uncommon. Protecting employees involves adequate training on how to handle volatile substances, and it is always best if that training is regular and ongoing. Special equipment like helmets, gloves, goggles, or even a hazmat suit may be required.
Hazardous Work Environment
Mining is one of the most hazardous professions. Huge corporations have been brought to their knees by magnanimous lawsuits brought by employees. In deep underground mines, sometimes a loss of life can result from a lack of safety measures or carelessness, but no company is immune.
Even Apple and Google have been named in lawsuits involving mining. In 2019, Congolese families allege children were hurt or killed while mining for cobalt, which is used in laptop computers, smartphones, and electric cars. The outcome of the trial is still undetermined, but if the plaintiff has a high-profile personal injury lawyer that wins, these behemoth companies will be paying out a very large sum indeed.
In the vast majority of accidents involving machinery, the equipment was not maintained properly. Spending the time and money to guarantee that every machine is running properly and safely is always worthwhile, and provides a kind of hedge against this type of lawsuit. Manuals for operating and working around machinery should be up-to-date and clearly list usage and safety details.
Human capital is every company’s most important resource. It is every owner or manager’s duty to protect workers, and in so doing, protect themselves against the exorbitantly high cost of employee personal injury litigation.
Interesting related article: “What are Occupational Hazards?“