The Importance of Documenting Personnel Files for Claims Investigation Purposes

Most personal injury claims arising in the retail and hospitality contexts sound in negligence. South Carolina has a three year statute of limitations for negligence claims.

For whatever reason, many, many claims we defend are commenced shortly before the three year statute runs. Three years is a long time in the retail and hospitality world as it relates to associate turnover, especially as it pertains to hourly associates.

When we’re brought in to defend a claim brought so close to the end of the SOL, key associates who were witnesses to the incident giving rise to the suit are often long gone. That means we frequently have to first solve the mystery of finding these former associates before we can even get going with the claim investigation. This process can be easy, hard, or impossible.

Our hunt for these associates is made so much easier when our clients have personnel files that have complete contact information, including information pertaining to next-of-kin. When p-files are appropriately documented, we find these folks. When we don’t, we’re left to using investigators to locate witnesses. This adds costs to the client. And sometimes, information for these associates can’t be located. The inability to piece together contact information obviously can affect our ability to investigate and defend claims. This can really add costs to the client with regard to indemnity payments.

Document your personnel files with complete contact information. Update them when associate addresses, telephone numbers, etc. change. Undertaking this effort may pay dividends in the future when a claim arises that is dependent upon associate recollection/testimony.

About Christian Stegmaier
Senior Shareholder

Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or