I was driving to work today and heard about an odd story. It seems that a fellow in Florida settled a personal injury case for over a half-million dollars after he was hit in the eye. “Yeah, yeah, OK, big deal for him but why should I care?”, I thought to myself. Then I learned that he was hit in the eye while getting a lap dance at a strip club and the stripper somehow moved her foot around and her stiletto heel caught him in the eye. (And, for some reason, the old saying “it’s always fun until someone loses an eye” immediately came to mind.) It has been reported now a fair amount on the Internet, so I’ll just give you one of the links here.
Now that we’ve added something a little tawdry to the otherwise fairly dry blog posts and I’ve got more of your attention, I’ll use this as the excuse to point out that I would expect that this was an accident – but an accident that cost the employer $650,000. Now, I can hear everyone yelling at me “but that’s the U.S., we don’t have personal injury awards that high, so it’s not so bad here.” Fair enough. But let’s suppose that it happened here in Ontario and the settlement was $65,000. Maybe your company is doing better than most and happens to have an extra $65,000 sitting around doing nothing and you’re fine to pay it to someone else – but I doubt that that’s actually the case.
When was the last time you sat in your business and looked around and thought to yourself “what kind of things could go wrong around here to hurt someone?” Maybe it’s time to do that. I can bet you two things: (a) the strip club owner never thought in a million years that this type of accident would happen – if they had thought about it at all and (b) that they probably have new rules in place for lap dances to avoid this type of problem in the future. Similarly, you may want to ask yourself (a) do I have insurance to cover this? (b) is it enough? and (c) what types of problems are excluded from insurance coverage? I could just as easily see the strip club in Florida having general insurance coverage that could have included this accident as I could see the insurance company pointing out that it’s not covered.
At the same time, what happened to the stripper? Nobody seems to have said if she was hurt. Obviously any injury she suffered would have paled in comparison. But suppose that she broke her ankle in the incident. Now we’ve got a workplace safety issue. When you’re looking around your business, give some thought to both how any customers or “outsiders” might get hurt but also how any of you or your employees might get hurt. If you are not in a business category that has mandatory workplace safety insurance (that is, “workers’ comp”), should you voluntarily opt into the program or else get other insurance? Also, is there any need for concern that any injuries might result in prosecutions under the workplace health and safety legislation? For many small businesses the answer might be no, but then ask yourself whether you have any equipment that can result in injury. I’m no longer amazed at how some employees can find ways to get themselves into trouble in situations that nobody thought anyone could ever have been so dumb or reckless – and yet it happens, with surprising frequency.
I’m not giving any definite answers here, only suggesting things you should think about to determine if there is any potential exposure to losing your business (or a lot of its value) in the blink of an eye. (Pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist.) Well, I suppose that if there is anything definite to be learned here, it’s probably to avoid strippers with stiletto heels
Something to think about.