Why Photographers need Public Liability insurance
Stairway to Heaven or Hell? Why Wedding Photographers need Public Liability insurance.
Fifteen wedding guests were injured when this stairway collapsed, some seriously according to media reports.
This happened while they were being organised and arranged by a Professional Photographer.
It doesn’t take a great imagination to understand how serious this situation is and what the aftermath might be.
A beautiful happy occasion forever tarnished.
Now on first impression it seems the primary if not sole responsibility lies with the hotel.
A closer inspection shows how the Professional Photographer could be held jointly or even solely responsible.
Let’s paint the picture;
Scene 1: The Bride and Groom tell the Photographer what pictures they want and of whom but leaves the where to the Photographer. The Wedding Photographer then does a recce of the hotel searching for best locations, light and discovers this Stairway.
A risk aware Photographer carries out a visual risk assessment of the stairway and the assignment.
This identifies fifteen adults at an average weight of twelve stones amounts to a combined weight of one hundred and eighty stones (little over one ton in weight) all on this stairway together. Can it stand the weight?
A visual check is carried out for any defects such as loose or rotten steps, handrails, poor maintenance. Nothing is obvious but a quick check with the hotel manager to make sure it is safe to use for the intended group shots and not a fire escape to be kept clear. Permission is granted.
Now that photographer had undertaken safety checks and concluded all is okay. As a result should be clear of any blame.
Still not out of jail they could be called to legally defend themselves and prove they had cared about the safety of the wedding party and done everything that might reasonably be expected to keep them safe. It stands to reason a written risk assessment even an informal one would help prove the Photographer is blame free.
Scene 2: The Photographer fails to do any type of even rudimentary risk assessment…..or let’s say rudimentary checks revealed defects in the Stairway but were not investigated or overlooked.
Let’s say there was evidence of rotten timbers or moss or lichen making the stairway unsafe or slippery when wet….but they were disregarded.
Let’s say the hotel were not asked for permission and this was a fire escape or out of bounds for any number of reasons where permission might be refused.
Quickly you can see how a case can be made where the Photographer owed the primary duty of care to the wedding party and had neglected that duty of care to keep them safe.
The Photographer in this scenario is at risk of being held jointly or even solely responsible for some serious injuries to fifteen people.
- Safety checks are necessary even when using other Parties equipment or property, more so when the Photographer is in primary control directing subjects where to stand and one what structures. When a Photographer is in control the bar of responsibility is raised
- The measure in law is what is deemed reasonable. No one expects a Photographer to be an expert property surveyor or engineer. But it might be deemed reasonable to expect them to detect obvious risks and avoid them or at least get them checked and discuss them with the people who might be exposed to risk of injury
- Public Liability insurance is essential protection for Photographers. Just as you wouldn’t dream of attending a shoot without your camera equipment, don’t leave home without your Public Liability insurance
- Think about avoiding risk of injury as observing a duty of care when in control and be able to prove it
- If in doubt ask the experts Infocus Insurance 0161 925 5051