Controlling Liability Risks pt.1
Controlling liability risks can be tremendously important for a law firm. A person cannot prevail in a liability lawsuit against your law firm unless he or she can convince the judge, jury, or another adjudicator that you breached your legal duty to that person. Examples of such duties include:
- Making a reasonable effort to maintain a safe environment for the public
- Refraining from slander
- Warning about an unsafe condition or product
In general, to reduce liability risks, you must behave lawfully and with demonstrable responsibility for third parties’ welfare—a group that includes partners, employees, customers, and the general public. You must also implement appropriate risk management policies and procedures to ensure your law firm can avoid unnecessary claims and litigation.
Who is responsible?
If you can prove that you took your responsibility seriously and made reasonable efforts to prevent harm to others, you are much less likely to be found liable. Evidence can be in a variety of forms, depending on the nature of the liability risk. A few examples are:
- Copies of communications with your customers or employees about safety and risk
- Records of your efforts to verify that someone you hired was not a risk to others
- Testimony that you provided warning signs or other warning signals regarding a hazardous condition on your property
- Evidence from other professionals in your field that the decisions you made and the actions you took were consistent with acceptable professional standards
- Records that knowledgeable technicians regularly serviced your equipment
Notice that in most of these examples, some form of written record is involved. Documenting your efforts to behave lawfully can be vital to proving that you are not liable. We recommend including processes for storing and retaining these written records.
In part 2, we’ll discuss some of the biggest internal liability risks and how to avoid them.