College Safety: Don’t Skip Making an Injury Report

A stroll through campus can quickly turn into a slip and fall. Often, those who fall and are injured may have no idea how it even happened. That’s why it’s important to capture the facts as soon as possible by using an injury report. The information gathered is critical for the college’s safety committee. It helps facilities, student affairs, and other departments quickly fix issues and identify trends that need to be addressed. The form also should include a list of team members to call during or after an incident.

While paperwork is never fun, spending 10 minutes of your time could minimize the potential for a negligence lawsuit. Get prepared now so you can accurately capture the facts of the next unfortunate incident.

   Download our Sample Injury Report

More Than Paperwork

Whenever someone is injured on campus, someone should complete an injury report. A timely injury report does three things: it shows you are proactive in taking care of attendees, captures the scene, and can reduce the fear of filing an insurance claim. An injury report is a snapshot — a facts-only document that:

  • Creates a written record at the time of the injury.
  • Preserves unvarnished statements from the injured person and witnesses.
  • Lists physical symptoms that can help medical personnel determine treatment.
  • Helps law enforcement with an investigation in cases of abuse or neglect.
  • Speeds up the claims process and helps fulfill a timely Medicare filing.

Completing the Form

A responding safety team member or staff member should complete the form. The more details, the better. It’s important information for the college’s safety team. Additionally, investigators rely on injury reports to begin the claims process. If possible, ask the injured person open-ended questions, like “how did you fall?” and “were you carrying something?”

Ask witnesses similar questions, like “what did you observe?” and “what did the injured person tell you?” Try to write down the person’s exact response.

The following information also is crucial:

  • Physical attributes: Does the person use a walker or cane?
  • Familiarity: Is this the person’s first time on campus? Did the person leave the same way he or she came in? Did the person enter a restricted area?
  • Environmental: Were the sidewalks wet from rain? Was it snowy, foggy, or dark when the injury took place?

Make it Visual. There are two great reasons to take photos or video at the time of or right after the injury. First, it records the actual scene where the injury took place. If the case goes to court, it could be argued that the injury took place elsewhere, where it’s easier to prove negligence. Second, it gives you the opportunity to physically inspect the area and consider if safety is an issue.

When taking photos or video, try to document the person’s footwear. This can be an important detail when contacting your insurance company.

Keep Reports Secure. Injury forms often contain personal information protect by privacy laws. Keep completed forms in a secure place, like a locked file cabinet or password-protected e-file.

Related Resource

Posted December 20, 2022.

The information provided in this article is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program. Your organization is responsible for compliance with all applicable laws.