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Case Study: Limit Your Liability with Caregiver Training

By David DickieWheelchair Crash

CEO, The Solutions Group

What’s your potential liability if a client is injured and your caregiver has not been properly trained?

This matter involves 96-year-old client Steven Smith (all names changed) who suffered severe injuries to the face and forehead resulting in death on July 31, 20XX when he was ejected from his wheelchair on a wheelchair ramp outside his home. The caregiver that day, Janice Thomas, was a replacement for the normal caregiver, who had called in sick. Notably, there was no documentation of training of the replacement caregiver regarding wheelchair use. On January 22nd, 20XX the insured received a letter from Weis, Petersen, Bowles & Skinner stating that the accident was a proximate result of negligence by Ms. Thomas, specifically that the wheelchair was wheeled frontwards down the ramp, rather than backwards as is normal procedure and that Mr. Smith was not strapped into the wheelchair.

ABC Home Health Care turned the letter over to their liability carrier. The carrier made an affirmative coverage determination and initiated an investigation.

The caregiver denied wheeling the client forward down the ramp. The insurance company came to the conclusion that the facts of the case portrayed a different set of events, specifically that it would be almost impossible to pitch forcibly out of a wheelchair, and have damage to the forehead and face, if the wheelchair were in fact going backward down a ramp. And even if backwards, not strapping into the chair, as was normal documented procedure for this client and stated in the plan of care, was negligence enough.

Liability to the caregiver and agency seemed clear.

The insurance company immediately commenced settlement negotiations. Surprisingly, the attorney for the estate of Steven Smith demanded only $150,000 in damages. Negotiations ensued, with a final settlement of $100,000 and defense costs of $12,025. It could have been much worse.

Prevention:

Train replacement caregivers and document the training

Wheelchair use training for all caregivers

Liability Insurance Research Report

Liability Insurance - cover image for website

To help you get a better understanding of your potential liability as the owner of a home care company, and to help  you understand the principles of insurance for business owners, Leading Home Care has conducted a study of the principles of liability and workers compensation insurance.  We have written a special research report, and this report is available to you without cost compliments of The Solutions Group.  Download your free copy of this valuable report today.

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