Published on March 21, 2018
Liability issues and disaster in emergency management: Liability issues and disaster in emergency management By: Alexandra Grant What is liability?: What is liability? Liability comes from a common law doctrine called Negligence The main principle of negligence is that every person has a “general obligation to act in a reasonable manner at all times, considering the circumstances. When one acts (or fails to act) unreasonably and that act (or failure to act) is the legal cause of an injury to a person or property, liability ensues .” (Nicholson, ) Therefore, the result of negligence is liability Emergency Management Law is present in Federal, State, and Local government. The legal responsibility of all 3 may result in liability. The State law’s legal responsibility is the most likely to result in liability which is specifically due to negligence. Liability issues have, in fact, been called the “great unplanned for hazard faced by emergency management” (Nicholson, 2003a).: Liability issues have, in fact, been called the “great unplanned for hazard faced by emergency management” (Nicholson, 2003a). Causes: Causes A unit of government can create a variety of different liability issues from various activities. Including: F ailure to properly train or supervise emergency management employees, or failure to preform any duties that are generally part of emergency management responsibilities. Failure to adhere to a plan or an executive level decision. Lack of wisdom from an Incident Commander. Poor choices, poor planning, and bad emergency response. Failure to comply with l egal duty such as OSHA law. (Nicholson) Example of what “avoiding liability” might look like: Example of what “avoiding liability” might look like In mitigation, paying attention to local hazards and updating fire and building codes could mean a less severe effect if a disaster were to occur. Before a disaster, hiring an attorney to help draft plans, evaluate training standards, and monitor exercises for potential legal issues, as well as assure that EOP revisions are sufficient from a legal standpoint. During emergency response, the attorney may advise the leader of the unit of government and emergency manager on potential legal effects of various options. During disaster recovery, the lawyer can help to make sure that expenses are properly documented and that the transition into mitigation is properly performed. Only when emergency managers and the attorneys who advise them understand each other’s responsibilities and contributions can they work together to diminish the potential for litigation. (Legal Issues PPT) Conclusion: Conclusion There is a wide variety of legal responsibilities from federal and state statutes, local ordinances, case law, and policies that emergency managers must comply with. Avoidance of liability requires creating a proactive partnership with legal advisors that runs through all phases of emergency management.