Lawsuits are something that can impact any organization, but they can be particularly devastating to a non profit organization. Most lawsuits fit into one of three categories, personal injury, contract issues, and employment law issues. Let’s look at each of these more carefully to better understand how to avoid these common lawsuits.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Non profits, or any company, is at risk for a personal injury lawsuit anytime someone is injured on their property. Whether it is an employee, a volunteer, or a customer, any injury could lead to a lawsuit. To avoid these types of injuries it is essential for proper training, signage, and safety measures to be in place. Training is especially important for employees if they are around or operating any machinery, working with hazardous materials, or using dangerous equipment (a cook at a soup kitchen using an oven or knife for example). Proper training can reduce the number of incidences, while proper signage can limit the organization’s liability. For injuries that occur not related to employees, to customers for example, it is essential for proper signage and safety measures to be in place. Things like signs, railings, and up to code buildings can help reduce the instance of accidents, while also protecting the organization from potential lawsuits. Still, in some cases lawsuits do happen, so it is especially important for any organization or business to have insurance in place to protect them in the event of an injury.
Another common lawsuit for any type of business is a contract lawsuit. In these cases, someone’s contract has potentially been violated or not upheld, and their response is to file a lawsuit against the company. This can be a contract with an employee, or with an outsourced vendor. The best way to prevent contract lawsuits is to have clearly outlined and detailed contracts that cover every detail of the employment or business partnership. Vague and general contracts are a recipe for contract lawsuits, so it is essential to have a lawyer review any and all contracts prior to signing.
Employment Law Lawsuits
And finally the third common lawsuit for non profits (or any business) is employment law lawsuits. These lawsuits deal with the employee-employer relationship. In these cases generally the employer feels they were treated wrongly, or released wrongly, and have chosen to retaliate with a lawsuit. Having a strong human resources department can help minimize these types of lawsuits by enforcing policies and procedures while also dealing with unhappy employees.
All businesses are at risk of lawsuits, even nonprofit organizations. While there are steps nonprofits can take to limit the frequency of lawsuits, it is also essential for any organization to have the proper insurance in place. Personal injury lawsuits can be minimized, but sometimes accidents do happen, which is where insurance comes into play, protecting the organization. Contract lawsuits can be minimized by having a lawyer carefully review contracts prior to signing, and employment law lawsuits can be minimized by having clear policies and procedures in place. If you run a nonprofit organization and would like guidance on a current lawsuit, or on ways to prevent them in the future, give us a call today!