Unsecured Wheelchair Death

The Nonprofit

A nonprofit that provides transportation services to persons with disabilities.

The Situation

An employee of the insured’s vendor providing transportation services was alleged to have failed to properly secure the client’s wheelchair. The wheelchair rolled down the decedent’s driveway, throwing the client from the chair — resulting in head injuries which led to death. 

There was a dispute between whether the decedent’s daughter failed to secure the chair or whether the vendor’s employee was responsible. The vendor filed bankruptcy, and the vendor’s employee was incarcerated for unrelated reasons. The insured faced vicarious liability for alleged inadequate vetting of its vendor.

The Resolution

NIA negotiated a global settlement that included funding by the carrier for the defunct vendor, and recommended that the nonprofit develop a practice of performing background checks of its vendors, to verify the financial status of and to routinely obtain copies of the insurance declaration pages of its vendors, and not to rely solely on the Certificate of Insurance as verification of member’s additional insured status.

From the Claims Files stories like the one above are intended to be informational in nature. Please contact your insurance broker and/or agent for your specific coverage implications based on your specific situation.