By: Guest Writer, Cameron Annas
After an incident, and especially after an attorney is involved, you are going to be asked to produce the following: that day's inspection checklist, specific equipment checklists and maintenance logs, employee training records for the employees involved, the incident report and any other relevant documentation to the course, equipment or employees involved. This can be a very time consuming task if documents are not recorded and stored properly.
One of the most frequent questions we (Granite Insurance) get asked is how should we be keeping this documentation. Paper or electronically? Keep in mind that when it comes to a lawsuit, it isn't necessarily about "what happened" but rather "what can you prove or document". Whether it comes to waivers, inspection reports, daily course inspections, or incident reports, my recommendation is always electronic documentation. Here is why:
Time Stamped: Electronic records are time stamped which has a lot more power in a lawsuit versus a paper document. Who is to say that the paper document was not drawn up, to defend your company, after the incident occurred? Electronic records take this argument out of the air.
Retention: Who likes keeping stacks and stacks of documentation just laying around? How about renting a storage container to store all these documents? What happens if this storage container or your building burns down, losing all these records? Remember, it isn't necessarily about what happened, but what you can prove. Having a cloud based, electronic documentation process allows for these worries to be alleviated.
Analysis: How much easier would it be to analyze your incident reports, daily inspections, equipment inspections, etc. from an electronic system? This analysis allows your to identify potential reoccurring course problems, employee issues or other areas that need to be addressed. Identifying these issues on the front end of things will lead to fewer major incidents. Paper makes this a complicated task and very time consuming.
Shifting Liability: In some scenarios, an injury at your operation may be due to another person's or company's fault. For example, think about 3rd party course/equipment inspection. If the 3rd party vendor did not complete the inspection in its entirety, there is good likelihood that you would like to shift the liability for an incident arising due to this, back to them. However we cannot do this without proper documentation. Also, equipment failure. Most equipment manufacturers require that you comply with their exact inspection/maintenance instructions in order for them to accept the liability for product defect, and you have to be able to provide documentation of this. Without having the ability to retrieve that documentation and prove it was recorded prior to the incident, this shifting of liability ceases to exist. Thus, causing your company to have more exposure and insurance premiums to rise.
Whether it be in an out-of-court settlement or an actual court settlement, documentation is critical. When comparing the adventure sport industry to other industries, we are far behind in the area of documentation If there is no documentation of inspection, maintenance, etc. then you can consider that it never occurred. Electronic documentation is the new way of the future for the adventure sport industry. Don't let your operation be the last to adapt!
Looking for the modern, turn key solution to manage risk and all your record keeping? Check out Papertrail and sign up to watch a free pre-recorded webinar today!