WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN INVESTIGATING CLAIMS HOW TO TAKE STATEMENTS RESPONDING TO CLAIMS DEALING WITH THE MEDIA
Types of Claims Trip/Slip and Fall Workplace Injury Third Party Liability Distinction and Scope
Depends on the Type of Claim Tort Based Contract Based Public Entity v. Private Entity Statutory Requirements Common Law
ELEMENTS TO ESTABLISH LIABILITY DUTY BREACH OF THE DUTY CAUSATION DAMAGES
ELEMENTS TO ESTABLISH LIABILITY HARMED BY A PRODUCT THAT CONTAINED… MANUFACTURING DEFECT DESIGN DEFECT FAILURE TO WARN
USE THESE ELEMENTS TO CONDUCT YOUR INVESTIGATION! Keys to the investigation OWNERSHIP CONTROL NOTICE
FIRST: THE INCIDENT OR RECEIVE CLAIM FORM SECOND: BEGIN INVESTIGATION THIRD: CLAIM RESPONSE FOURTH: LAWSUIT
INCIDENT FORM PROTOCOL Develop Protocol Communicate and Follow Protocol “CONFIDENTIAL ATTORNEY-CLIENT COMMUNICATION” or “PREPARED AT THE REQUEST OF COUNSEL” or “PREPARED IN ANTICIPATION OF LITIGATION”
INCIDENT FORM Time, Date and Activity Observations ONLY NO Opinions
GATHER INFORMATION IMMEDIATELY Determine if claim has merit Preservation of evidence FIX THE PROBLEM?
Respect Courtesy Understanding Professionalism Sincerity DO NOT EXPRESS ANY OPINIONS! Avoid commentary Stick to Facts…remember Joe Friday
CLAIMANT THIRD PARTY WITNESSES EMPLOYEES INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
Inspection Reports Maintenance Records Citizen Service Requests/Complaints E-mails and other correspondence Prior Tort Claims Original Design Documents
Contracts Indemnity Provisions Insurance Endorsements Meeting Minutes City Council Agenda’s/Reports Municipal Codes
Photographs Videos OF WHAT? Physical Injuries Property Damage Accident location Many different angles Alleged dangerous condition
Preserve Documents! Create Paper Trail of Investigation NO OPINIONS Tender to Third Parties Independent Contractors Contractors Insurance Carriers Insurance Brokers Public Entities May need to do your own Tort Claim
Claims investigation is a collaborative effort… especially once litigation begins Attorney Claims Representative/Risk Manager Organizational personnel Define roles and responsibilities at outset of investigation Division of labor Avoid duplication of efforts Cost savings
Attorneys and claims/risk managers need to communicate with each other regularly E-mail, Phone or In-Person Attorney reports should contain critical analysis and recommendations Open and honest communication BOTH GOOD AND BAD!
Media shapes and forms public opinion with how it reports your case in several different ways…
Places officials in the public light Pressure on company and claims handlers Causes public uproar regardless of “real” facts Makes case seem larger than it is Puts your company in a defensive position
Develop relationships and cooperate with local media Have your communication network set up Be first to report?
Common Mistakes Too many people making statements One Person One Agency Not making a statement or talking to the press Statements that fuel the fire
YOUR INVESTIGATION PROVIDES GROUNDWORK FOR DEFENDING LAWSUIT!