A construction site is a dangerous place. Power tools, scrap wood and metal, heavy equipment – all of these can cause serious injury or property damage. Loss control efforts normally focus on prevention of accidents on job sites. However, the possibility of a loss that could drag a contractor into court does not end when the project is finished. The contractor’s work stays behind and can be the source of serious liability claims. Consider the following examples:
A computer consultant is upgrading servers at a client’s site. While explaining a problem to one of the client’s employees, he gestures with one hand and knocks over a hot cup of coffee. The drink spills on the employee, causing a serious burn. The consultant reports the incident to his insurance agent, who submits a claim to the company providing his commercial general liability insurance. However, the company responds by denying coverage, citing a change attached to the policy. This change removes coverage for bodily injury arising out of the rendering of computer consulting services, advice or instruction by the policyholder. According to the company, the employee’s injury resulted from the computer consulting services.
When your insurance company issued your workers’ compensation policy, you paid an estimated premium for the term of the policy. This rate was based on the nature of your business and your estimated payroll. However, once your policy expires, the insurance company conducts a premium audit to gather data about your actual costs for the applicable policy term. If there is any shortfall, you are responsible for the difference between the original estimate and actual premium.
Employers are facing increasing liability as a direct result from their employees’ cell phone use. So why is this the next legal frontier? The number of lawsuits involving employer liability for traffic accidents caused by employee cell phone usage is steadily growing, as well as lawsuits based on health problems associated with cell phone use.
Savvy contractors understand the key points of workers’ compensation, especially on controlling losses and managing the premiums. They are also likely familiar with commercial auto and general liability insurance, as construction contract issues tend to center around these coverages. But builders’ risk insurance is often a little more daunting for contractors because it’s not top of mind.
Spotting the red flags that indicate possible workers’ compensation fraud by employees is the best way to prevent fraud from occurring. Knowing how to spot the red flags is a proactive way to nip a potentially costly but false workers’ compensation claim before it begins.
Construction accidents often result in damaged property. Fires from faulty wiring scorch walls, paint sprays onto cars, and collisions dent earth-moving equipment. When something goes wrong, the contractor will look to his commercial general liability (CGL) policy to pay the costs of repair or replacement. However, while this policy covers many types of property damage claims, it will not cover every situation.
Far too many employers these days are facing retaliation complaints from their employees under a variety of federal and state laws. Whether it be the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, provisions under some workers’ compensation state legislation, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, lawsuits against employers are definitely on the rise. Clearly, preventative action is called for here.
Employers in today’s marketplace face many formidable competitive and legal pressures. In addition to holding onto market share, they must comply with environmental, safety, and trade practice regulations. Increasingly, they must also worry about legal challenges from their own employees. The job security that employers offered for decades has given way to a dynamic and sometimes unsettling work environment. Rising job insecurity has brought with it more frequent lawsuits from employees sensitive to perceived discrimination. Several trends in the workplace indicate that this will continue.
Sexual harassment is a serious issue for all organizations. It demeans and humiliates the targets, lowers workplace morale and reduces productivity as employees spend energy worrying about the latest offense rather than furthering the business. It can also inspire employee lawsuits, bad publicity for the organization, and criminal charges. Even the best of organizations may face incidents of sexual harassment at some point. If it happens, how the organization responds is of the utmost importance.