In a large and diverse organization the challenge of managing the various aspects of the loss control and prevention process can be tremendous. The County of Los Angeles (County) is faced with multiple challenges ranging from cultural issues within our 39 departments to the complexity of the types of losses that our 94,000 employees and 60 million county inhabitants and visitors experience. In an organization whose exposures include law enforcement, road construction, hazmat response, fire fighting, corrections, medical care, transportation, children's services, recreation, facility construction and maintenance, administration and beach safety, the types of losses that can occur are far reaching and can be substantial. The liability loss types range from general liability (slips/falls, wrongful death, employment-related issues, building design and construction, errors and omissions, director and officers, civil rights violations, etc.), vehicle liability (automobiles, motorcycles, armored personnel carriers, etc.), property damage and medical malpractice-related losses. Each of the losses has a unique set of causes and requires event-specific loss control approaches to abate the root cause and to prevent recurrence.

Although liability-related losses may differ from traditional loss exposures managed by safety and health professionals (i.e. workplace injuries), the principles and practices utilized in safety and health management can be applied to liability related loss exposures. The County manages liability loss exposures through loss control and prevention efforts by utilizing time tested safety management practices to assist management in analyzing losses, determining appropriate corrective actions and implementing fixes that address the root causes of the losses. In the safety and health universe many programs are driven by regulatory compliance, near-miss reporting and/or compliance audit programs. In the liability arena, many efforts are directed as a result of litigation activity or other post-accident management activity and result after an event or loss has occurred. Many safety and health professionals are uncomfortable when managing liability-related losses, since the losses can be broad and complex and there is not a solid preventative infrastructure in place when dealing with these types of losses. This is a common misconception, which needs to be refuted. Liability loss control and prevention can and should be treated like any other loss exposure. Proactive management systems and processes can be developed to assist in the management of liability related loss exposures.

Defining Liability Losses

Liability is a legal term that describes the condition of being actually or potentially subject to a legal obligation. A liability is a situation in which a person (or organization) is liable, such as in situations of tort concerning property or reputation, and responsible to pay compensation for any damage incurred. Liability may be civil or criminal. Liability losses may result from a claim for damages being filed or the filing of a lawsuit.

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