Jurors want to hear what steps you take to keep your employees, customers, and the public safe. Jurors will forgive a LAPSE in safety; they will not forgive a LACK of safety. Safety and Litigation
Safety is its own reward in terms of keeping people safe. Safety also has monetary and productivity rewards: Keeps your trained workers working Avoids cost of hiring and training new workers (while still paying the injured worker) Keeps down insurance costs Keeps down litigation costs Make Safety a Priority
What Your Documents Say to the Jury Jury more impressed when focus is on the human element... But it is okay to point out secondary benefits, too. KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE
ALL employees should receive basic safety training. Do not rely on employees prior training by other companies. Apply training program uniformly. Safety training should be ongoing. Costs less to have 1 hour of training per month than to lose an employee for weeks due to an injury. To Train or Not to Train?
Keep records of your safety training meetings. Have employees sign in to document their attendance. Have employee sign. Dont let employees sign in for each other. Training Documentation
Videos (Jurors will thank you!) Demonstrations Written materials Use a Variety of Media
Generalities vs. specifics Be careful of bright line rules. Allow employees to exercise discretion. Safety & Training Manuals
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION From the Legal Perspective
First Priority after an accident – make sure everyone is okay. Be respectful of people involved in accidents. Show sincere concern. When an Accident Occurs
Reduce Lawsuits by Showing Concern Mad people sue. Mad people want to hurt you financially. Juries get mad if they think you are calloused. Mad juries are BAD juries!
Apologize without admitting fault. Keep conversations limited to how everyone is doing. Do not discuss fault during conversations. (BUT make sure to write down any admissions of fault THEY may make.) Instruct your employee not to speak with anyone without managements permission. Communicating with persons involved in accidents
Photographs Accident Reports Document Retention Accident Investigation and Documentation
Photographs - Dos and Donts Do not memorialize a bad scene. Do not photograph injured partys injuries (but do photograph other person if shows he/she is not injured). Do memorialize safety measures that are present. Warning cones Signs or instructions. Take photos close up and far away.
Accident Reports Dos and Donts DOs Document just the facts. Be careful to clarify who said what. Record admissions that injured person makes. Sign and date your documents. DONTs Use as a disciplinary tool. Express opinions or assign fault. Classify accidents as preventable. Back-date documents.
Documentation in the Courtroom Sloppy documentation reflects a sloppy company with sloppy safety practices. Proper documentation allows you to say it and then PROVE it! Plaintiff will that argue everything you wrote reflects your views. Explain source of info you write. Do not express opinions.
COMPARE: Describe how the accident occurred: Customers foot slipped in puddle of water and there were no warning signs around. Describe how the accident occurred: Customer claims her foot slipped in puddle of water and that there were no warning signs around.
How to Make a Lawyer Hate You Describe how the accident occurred: Jones did not clean up the spill like I told him to so the customer slipped and fell. Was proper safety equipment used? No because safety goggles are not in the budget.
Plaintiff s Ex. 1 Imagine every document as a trial exhibit!
Document Retention Management should arrange periodic document sweeps. Lack of old documents easier to address than damaging old documents. As a general rule, 25 months is a good retention policy.