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Protecting your business from legal risks: a brief overview

Image: David Castillo Dominici | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For any business owner comes the responsibility to protect your assets and the reputation of your business. As you may know, reputation is everything when it comes to generating new clientele and keeping your existing clients. The implications to a business because of false or legitimate claims can be significant and in some cases can cause it to close entirely. Protecting your business and reputation from any such claims therefore needs to be considered at the planning stage, and regularly reviewed.

There are a number of different types of claims the public and employees can make which can damage your business’s reputation. Knowing what types of risks exist and how you can protect your company against them is important for the overall health of your business. Read on and find out some of the things you need to know about where the risks lie and what types of insurance will help protect you.

Customer personal injury claims 

Accidents happen on a regular basis. When an accident happens where you conduct business, it can have a serious effect on your reputation and can cost you a pretty penny. For example, when a third-party files a personal injury claim, the claimant must prove that your business was negligent for damage or injuries to their property or person. One of the most common personal injury claims is slip and fall accidents. Any customer suffering such an accident has the right to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering, legal expenses, and damages against your company. Your personal injury lawyer will point out that, as you might expect, the cost for legal defense can be extremely high and for this reason your business needs general liability insurance to protect yourself against founded and unfounded personal injury claims.

Employee injury claims 

You never want to see your workers hurt, however there may come a time when you will have to deal with an employee who was injured while they were working. Employees throughout Canada are protected by the Disabled and Injured Workers Charter through the Canadian Injured Workers Society. The charter requires that all employees must be assessed by a qualified medical practitioner and must receive compensation for their loss of wages within 14 days. As you might expect, medical bills and legal expenses can add up. This is why most businesses in Canada are required to carry workers compensation insurance, which is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory renunciation of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. Workers’ Compensation insurance plans differ among jurisdictions.

Miss-selling 

If you sell products, miss-selling claims may come up from time to time. If you are not familiar with miss-selling, it means that your company has made fraudulent or misleading claims to sell your products to the public. Typically, miss-sold products can include invalid or inappropriate insurance, investment schemes and other unsuitable financial products. However, it is not exclusively so.  Other forms of miss-selling can include selling fake goods, misrepresentation of features and selling products or services which are not fit for purpose.

Employment Standards Tribunal or Labour Relations Board

The Employment Standards Tribunal or Labour Relations Board (it may have another name depending on the Canadian province or territory where you are located) is an independent, administrative or quasi-judicial tribunal that mediate and adjudicate a variety of employment and labour relations-related matters under a number of statutes and has the right to reconsider any order or decision that is made by the Director of Employment Standards for non-unionized workplaces or grievance process in unionized workplaces. This Tribunal or Board was created to protect employees and their rights and give them a platform where they can be heard. If employees are not happy or they feel like the employer is violating their rights under the law, they have the right to be heard and this can create problems and hurt the organization’s reputation and bottom line.

Defective products

If you sell consumer goods, you should take defective products claims very seriously. The public has the right to buy goods that will not harm them in any way if they are used as intended. This is why you should always carry Product Liability insurance. This insurance will protect you from economic loss if a customers claims your products caused them injury.

As you can see, there are a number of different claims that your business can face. Whilst you cannot safeguard against every incident or accident, nevertheless, organizations should,

  • Review their business practices and insurance policies to ensure they are on track with business goals and avoiding business related risks
  • Ensure they are complying with business and employment and other related laws
  • Follow all procedures with regards to health and safety will help to protect your business and your workers

This will ensure you never have to pay for legal defense because you were not covered.

Georgina Clatworthy is a business writer and legal editor. She is a contributing author for the NH personal injury lawyer firm, Tenn and Tenn of New Hampshire.

Occasional Contributors

In addition to our regular guest bloggers, Inside Internal Controls blog published by First Reference, provides occasional guest post opportunities from various subject matter experts on the topics of risk management and best practices in finance and accounting, information technology, environmental issues, corporate governance, sales/marketing and operations, not-for-profits and business related issues in Canada. If you are a subject matter expert and would like to become an occasional blogger, please contact Yosie Saint-Cyr at editor@firstreference.com. If you liked this post and would like to subscribe to Inside Internal Controls blog click here.
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