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Defending liability claims

Thursday 13 September 2018

Good health and safety can be a vital tool to help your organisation comply with legislation and reduce accidents and incidents which could cost you time and money.

Liability allegations can lead to claims where there is a perceived negligence on the part of your organisation. Here, our insurance broking partner, Gallagher, look at key components of a risk management strategy to defend liability claims.

Claims can occur in several ways, from loose flooring or carpet leading to a fall, or a potential back injury due to lifting a heavy object incorrectly where no manual handling training has been provided. With such a broad spectrum of potential claims scenarios to protect your organisation against, it is important to take practical steps to reduce your risk such as keeping areas dry and clear of obstacles, adequate lighting, and storing waste away from the building. These steps can make significant differences in the likelihood of you receiving a claim let alone having to defend one.

What should a good health & safety strategy include?

Ideally, a robust health & safety plan should incorporate some of the following elements:

  • Risk assessments performed wherever a situation could potentially result in injury. Full written records should be kept of each assessment, and each risk should be addressed based on its seriousness.
  • Adequate training should be provided to new employees and refresher training regularly provided to existing employees. And don’t forget each training event needs the participants to sign that they have attended and understood the training.
  • Occupational health schemes can help you to keep track of your employees’ fitness and identify work processes which may cause physical strain to your employees, allowing you to put systems in place to prevent injury.
  • Post-incident investigations allow you to understand what happened and how the incident could be prevented in future. You should interview anyone involved and collect photographic evidence.
  • There should be a documentation gathering process in place. This should include notes from investigations, risk assessments, training records and equipment maintenance logs.

The importance of record keeping

It is important to keep records of all the processes you have in place and details of all training provided, because if a claim does occur you’ll be able to provide your insurer with the evidence they need to defend your claim. For example, if an employee injures themselves lifting a heavy object then evidence that they have attended a manual handling course and completed the appropriate training could potentially work in your favour.

We do not recommend passing a claim to your insurers and then forgetting about it. Instead, by cooperating fully with your insurers, you will be able to work together to defend losses where possible. Claims may breed more claims, so if you fail to properly investigate a claim the first time you may end up dealing with the same type of claim repeatedly. This in turn can lead to higher pay outs, increased legal costs and even reputational damage. However, if an allegation is successfully defended and you reduce the risk of similar claims occurring in the future it could have a positive effect on your premium over time.

Liability claim information gathering checklist

This checklist provides a guide to some of the documents which will come in useful should you need to report a claim. This is not an exhaustive list and additional information may be requested from the insurers and/or Loss Adjusters involved in processing your claim.

  • Accident Report Form
  • RIDDOR Form (F2508)
  • Witness Statements
  • Post Incident Investigation Reports/Notes
  • Risk Assessments (Pre and Post Incident)
  • CCTV Recording
  • Employee File Including Training Records
  • Wage Details (13 Weeks Pre and Post Absence)
  • Inspection/Maintenance Logs
  • Cleaning Logs
  • Details of Any Visits/Correspondence
  • Post Incident From

While you may not be able to prevent claims occurring, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a successful claim being made against you. The correct training processes teamed with meticulous record keeping and regular risk assessments can make a significant difference to the number and value of claims you receive. Plus if a claim does occur, then your insurer may have the evidence needed to successfully defend the claim.

To talk to Gallagher about your insurance requirements contact their specialist Propertymark team on 0800 288 4921 or send them an email to