Small-business owners generally don’t put much stock in luck. They work too hard to think the roll of the dice somehow controls their destiny.
But sometimes fate has other ideas and works its mischief through your employees. In honor of Friday the 13th, we decided to dig up stories that demonstrate how employees and their bad luck can lead to jaw-dropping small business insurance claims.
The “Why-Don’t-You-Look-Where-You’re-Going?” General Liability Claim
Fortune may favor the bold, but it’s not always pleased with the pushy. That’s what Jesse Harrison, the founder and CEO of Zeus Legal Funding, discovered when his employee's hurry led to an insurance claim.
Apparently, his client and their child were on an elevator with the employee. Harrison says, “When the elevator door opened and everyone had to get off, the employee pushed a cart forward just as the three-year-old tried to get off, too.” The employee accidentally injured the child when he ran the cart into her.
Good luck charm: Because the triggering event involved a third party – a client, in this case – Harrison’s General Liability Insurance paid the claim. These kinds of accidents happen all the time and without much warning, which is why most small businesses purchase General Liability Insurance first.
The “Look-Out-for-That-Hog!” Workers’ Compensation Claim
Some people have all the luck. Others have car collisions with 400-pound hogs.
That's what happened to a Mississippi casino employee while returning home from a work-related trip. According to LexisNexis’ “Top 10 Bizarre Workers’ Compensation Claims of 2015,” her injuries could be covered by the casino’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Though the employee didn’t immediately file a Workers’ Comp claim and the casino questioned just how business-related her trip was, she did end up getting compensation for her injuries.
Good luck charm: Even when safety measures are in place, an employee’s bad luck can become your headache. But Matt Wilson of Martin Law (@MartinLaw1979) says, “If you manage a claim carefully when you first get it, it’s far less likely to blow up into a problem later on.”
Wilson encourages employers to investigate Workers’ Comp claims thoroughly, but he also recommends demonstrating concern for the injured employee. In his experience, the workers who feel like no one cared about them are more likely to secure legal representation.
The “I-Don’t-Think-You-Can-Fire-Me” EPLI Claim
Sometimes the wheel of fortune spins and it’s your turn for bad luck. But sometimes your actions push you toward trouble you might have otherwise avoided.
Consider, for example, Business Management Daily's report on a sous chef at Great Wolf Lodge resort who used some of her Family Medical Leave Act leave after shoulder surgery. When she returned, she requested and received a light-duty position. Later, she took additional time for knee surgery, ran out of leave, and again asked for lighter work when she returned. This time her request was denied, and she was fired.
The sous chef’s next step? A lawsuit claiming discrimination, which she won.
Good luck charm: First, download a copy of this FMLA poster so you and your employees know their rights.
Next, realize that the employer in the case took a risk that the chef wouldn’t be classified as disabled after her surgery and lost. Hopefully, the employer had Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) because it’s the policy that can address employee lawsuits over:
- Wrongful termination.
- Sexual harassment.
- Mismanagement of employee benefits.
These aren’t the only areas where unlucky employees can end up costing your business. Learn more in “Hiring? Better Update Your Professional Liability Insurance.”