How to write internal investigative reports to keep your construction company out of legal trouble
If you own a construction company, you know that accidents and mishaps are part of the deal. In fact, The Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration (OSHA) reports that one in ten construction site workers are injured every year.
But just because accidents are a part of your average day-to-day construction gig, doesn’t mean that they should be treated lightly. Any accident or situation that happens onsite could plant a seed for future lawsuits.
When a lawsuit happens, most companies, including contractors and construction companies, are advised to prepare an internal investigative report.
But here’s the deal: these reports are not privileged. This means that these reports don’t just stay between you and your attorney. They can come out in litigation and be damaging to your company’s position and reputation if they have sensitive or confidential material, or provide opinions about the situation.
Limit the legal harm these investigative reports can cause by following these 4 tips:
- A report should only have facts and not any opinions or conclusions of fault;
- Have a company policy setting uniform standards about the scope of the investigation, and a statement that these are facts known at the time the report is finalized, that revisions may be made because of new facts that may come along later;
- Have a statement on the report stating this report is made “in anticipation of litigation” which allows it to be privileged;
- If it is necessary to have legal for operational or exposure analysis and for decision-making, then involve in-house or outside legal counsel in the investigation and prepare a version of the report containing the internal opinions addressed to legal counsel so that the report may be protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege.
These simple steps may help eliminate risk of disclosure of sensitive information or inappropriate opinions about the situation.
The preceding is a summary of legal subjects provided for informational purposes only. Most legal issues need complex factual and legal analysis. You are advised not to rely on these blogs and seek legal advice about your specific issues from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. Nothing in these writings is intended to create, or creates, an attorney-client relationship. For consultation with a licensed attorney you may contact Ghassemian Law Group at 949-436-2785.