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How can Accidents Ruin a Company?

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As Frank Sinatra famously sang, accidents will happen. It's a simple fact of life that not everything will run as it should – and sometimes this has tragic and fatal consequences. Elon Musk is in hot water, with a lawsuit being filed against him and his company, Tesla, following the death of an 18-year old who was killed when a Tesla Model S battery malfunctioned. This isn't an isolated incident – there have been 12 cases of Tesla S batteries exploding or spontaneously combusting leading to accidents and injuries. But just what comes after something serious like this for a company?


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Change Happens

The case against Tesla is up in the air, mainly because of the stringent insurance that Tesla will have to protect themselves. That's why it's such a cautionary tale about the importance of general liability insurance for small business, as having the right insurance can help protect your company and customers alike.

General liability insurance coverage, in particular, is vital for any business as it covers everyone involved against bodily and personal injury as well as property damage. Most importantly, it helps cover against accident lawsuits, which can alone bankrupt a company.

In addition to ensuring you have the right insurance to protect your company and customers following an accident, part of surviving the fallout of a situation like this as a company is making changes to your product to reduce the possibility of a similar accident happening again.

For example, Golden Age actress Jayne Mansfield also changed the course of history for tractor-trailers. An accident that ended up killing the star changed the regulations on tractor-trailers to prevent future accidents. Mansfield's death added stronger safety features into a potentially dangerous contraption, aptly named Mansfield Bars or underride bars, which prevent anything from sliding underneath them. Accidents can cause a company or an entire industry to change the processes and methods in which they do things.

PR Meltdown

Accidents in other companies can lead to serious change regarding how they are viewed. British theme park Alton Towers cultivated a terrible reputation following an accident on their rollercoaster, which forced a young woman to have to endure a leg amputation. The social media uproar and customer distrust of the company grew and resulted in sales for the Merlin brand dropping for their theme park offering.

The BP oil accident at Deepwater Horizon, which was later made into a film, was another example of an accident leading to terrible publicity for the brand, as well as showing the fullest extent that accident lawsuits can go to, with BP paying over $42 billion. The CEO Tony Hayward was so embattled that he made a public gaffe by claiming “I'd like my life back" when he was done with answering questions on the spillages along the US Gulf Coast. The public tide began to turn on the fossil fuel provider, and people began looking at alternative methods that weren't liable to cause as many accidents. PR meltdowns could lead to devastation for companies, all because their safety protocol wasn't in place and an accident happened.

Accidents are awful, but a fact of life. There is nothing that we can do to prevent them – but we can protect ourselves should they happen. Ensuring that nothing can go wrong is vital, and often where companies find their downfall is when evidence of reckless endangerment or incorrect practices is unveiled. But, when the definition of the word accident can be applied, the best policy is to ensure that we are as protected from the aftermath as possible.

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