Criminal Liability is a Risk
If an accident results in death or serious injury, local district attorneys and other law enforcement officials also will assess the situation to determine if criminally negligent or intentional criminal misconduct was responsible for the incident. Potentially, they can bring criminal charges (such as involuntary manslaughter) against individuals in exceptional cases. The standard of conduct would not be expected to be met by officers and directors of a company unless they had actual knowledge of intentional wrongdoing or directly caused a dangerous situation.
Civil Liability is a Risk
The injured person might assess the situation to determine if civil negligence or intentional wrongdoing was responsible for the incident. Injured persons or heirs can bring civil charges (such as negligence) against individuals in many cases.
The best ways to protect against these risks of liability
- secure reasonable insurance that covers corporate liability for accidents and also includes protection for officers and directors to insulate them from personal financial risk;
- ensure that proper governance practices are followed to make the risk of "piercing the corporate veil" even more remote; and
- make monitoring workplace safety and health issues part of a comprehensive compliance program.