Despite the most rigorous of preventative policies, accidents in licensed premises can happen. Unfortunately, regularly, they are not taken seriously by the managers of the premises and not fully investigated at the time. From experience, the successful defence of proceedings is linked to the degree of investigation and immediate attention to detail. Always prepare for a claim and this should help to reduce the number of claims against you and have a positive impact on the level of your insurance premium.
Set out below are 5 steps a licensee can take to minimise liability.
- Complete an Accident Report Form immediately: it is crucial that an accident report form is fully completed with as much detail as possible at the time of the accident. This should include the customers contact details, a description of the accident including times and dates, any alleged injuries and any witnesses (including their contact details) to the accident. It may be useful to note any comments the customer makes, such as ‘I wasn’t paying attention’. You should also note what the customer was wearing at the time of the accident and provide details of the weather conditions on the day of the accident.
- Retain CCTV Footage: It is crucial that that any footage relating to the accident itself is preserved. Additionally you should retain any relevant footage before and after the accident such as where the customer had been sitting. If it is your policy to record over footage every so often, you should download the relevant footage and file safely for use in the event of a claim.
- Take Statements from Witnesses and Employees: often after an accident, a customer may be in shock and unable to remember what happened. It is worth asking any witnesses to the accident to record what they witnessed and sign it, if possible. This should include bar staff who may have served the customer. Remember to keep contact detail of all witnesses, including staff.
- Take Photographs of the Area: often by the time Personal Injuries claims are presented in court, the layout of your premises may have changed significantly. It can be useful to have photographs detailing the position of furniture and fixtures, floor surfaces and any warning signs that were present at the time of the accident. If you propose to carry out major alterations, it would be prudent to notify your insurers in advance so that they can arrange for an inspection of the premises. Also if a claim has been instigated the claimant and or his solicitor should be informed so that they can arrange for an inspection by an engineer.
- Follow up with Customer: showing concern can have a positive effect on placating an aggrieved customer. It is important that you entrust an articulate and sympathetic senior member of management to follow up with the customer and ask how they are doing. It is equally important to be careful not to mention any inquiries or to make any admissions of liability. A kind and sympathetic approach may help to avoid a claim.