What Would You Do? Handling Common Crises in a Self-Storage Operation

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While these actions all differ, the core purpose is the same. You must wait until the area is safe before you should consider entering the premises. While you are waiting, call your insurance agent to begin the claim process. Your agent will most likely want to send an adjuster to view the scene as quickly as possible. In the case of a fire, an adjuster may be able to arrive at the scene while state fire investigators are still conducting their investigation to determine what may have caused the fire.

When the facility or affected area is safe to enter, it will be time to begin the process of documenting the damage. Take photographs to help your agent process your claim effectively. You will also need to take steps to prevent any further damage to the property or injuries to staff and customers. Once you have secured the area, you may begin contacting the affected tenants. Tenants should not be permitted access to any fire-damaged, leak-damaged or flood-damaged areas until the premises is deemed safe and you have completed your documentation activities for the facility’s insurance claim.

What would you do if a tenant injured himself on your property?

Driscoll and SST senior member geraldine1051 have both had tenants injure themselves at their facilities. In geraldine1051’s case, she found a tenant on the ground who was unresponsive. She called 911 to dispatch emergency personnel to the facility. The tenant had been drinking and sustained severe head injuries from falling. When the tenant eventually returned to the facility, she asked him to vacate his belongings.

Driscoll says the incidents he has experienced are similar in that the injuries all resulted from tenant carelessness. Depending on the severity of the injury, he says managers may need to call 911, administer first aid or immobilize the victim. He recommends managers become certified in first aid and CPR. After the injured tenant is stabilized, Driscoll would notify the insurance agent of the incident and call his employer.

“Only one person ever filed a claim, and my employer settled it by paying medical bills,” he says. “[Another injured tenant] was grateful I saved his leg by removing an extremely heavy pallet off of it and stopped the bleeding until the rescue squad arrived.”

What SHOULD you do?

Schaefer: First, be sure the injured tenant has proper medical attention as needed. All information about the incident (including the date, time, location, people involved and description of the accident and injury) should be recorded as soon after the event as possible. Photographs of the scene and any physical elements that may have contributed to the accident or injury can be very helpful. Next, call your insurance agent so the insurance company can be notified promptly to review the injury and circumstances.

While you might want to  express genuine concern and offer help to the injured tenant, you should not admit responsibility for the accident or injury until that has been objectively and independently determined by your insurance company.

Sedlacek: There are many ways a tenant may become injured on your property. Sometimes the injury is reported immediately, or you may even witness the event. There’s always a possibility, however, that a tenant will become injured and wait days, weeks or longer to notify the facility.

If you witness an injury or it’s reported to you right away, your first response should be to offer medical assistance. If the person involved is unconscious or obviously severely injured, call an ambulance immediately. If the person is responsive, you should offer to call an ambulance. The injured person may decline, but you need to make the offer.

You should also collect personal information regarding the injured person and any witnesses, including full name, address and telephone numbers. For non-tenants, be sure to record the person’s status (tenant guest, prospective tenant, etc.). Photograph the area, complete a written incident report, and ask the injured person and witnesses to sign and date it. The next critical step is to call your insurance agent to report the incident.

In the case of a tenant who reports an injury that happened in the past, the steps are similar. Complete an incident report and photograph any visible injuries if possible. Be sure to collect full contact information from the injured party and any witnesses, and document any medical attention the person received (hospitals, doctors’ names, etc.). You’ll need to know the date and time of the injury so you can determine which staff members were on duty during the incident.

It's important to be sympathetic to a person who claims an injury, but do not admit any liability, agree to any responsibility, or make any promises to pay for damages. If the tenant solicits this type of admission, refer him to your insurance agent. Finally, do not delay in notifying your insurance agent. Your agent needs to be made aware immediately of any incident that may result in legal action against your business.

To read more great content in the ISS "What Would You Do?" business-challenges series, type code WWYD13 in the search box at insideselfstorage.com.

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