Incident Report vs. Accident Report: Which To File?

Incident Report vs. Accident Report: Which To File?

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Jul 26, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

If you are a company executive or manager of any kind, you might be occasionally required to file incident reports and/or accident reports. However, the differences between these two types of reports can be opaque, especially when events seem to fit both categories.

Read on for more information about incident reports versus accident reports, and which to file. For more legal assistance, you can contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers now at 1-800-966-4999.

Incident vs. Accident – Definitions

Incidents and accidents, while similar, are distinct in a legal sense. Here are the definitions of these two terms in relation to workplace reports:

  • Incident: An event or occurrence outside the norm at a workplace or business that does not involve a personal injury.
  • Accident: An event or occurrence outside the norm in the workplace or business that involves at least one personal injury to an employee, patron, or some other party.

As you can see, the chief difference between incidents and accidents is the presence of personal harm. For example, a customer throwing a product on the ground and shattering it in the process is an incident. That same customer pushing an employee to the ground, causing them to bruise or break their wrist, however, would constitute an accident since a personal injury was sustained in the process.

In another example, a customer enters a store and shouts at the staff. No damage is sustained, but the incident is notable and may indicate the potential for future issues. It warrants an incident report.

In contrast, an employee is injured while using workplace machinery. The worker needs to file a workers’ compensation claim. The accident, since they were injured, needs an accident report form to be filed for accurate records and insurance purposes.

For these situations, business owners, executives, and managers of all kinds may be required to file incident reports and/or accident reports based on the details of prior events.

When To File an Incident Report

Incident reports are important documents that provide legal evidence for future litigation, determining who is on the hook for damages with health insurance companies, and more. You should file an incident report any time an incident takes place at your company, regardless of the apparent significance of the event.

Why? Because even if you believe an incident to be minor or otherwise unremarkable, there’s no guarantee that another party will see it the same way.

For example, a disgruntled customer could enter your business, destroy some property, and go on their way. If you were to fail to file an incident report, your side of the event would not have a record. Moreover, if the disgruntled customer returns, or worse, tries to file litigation against you, you may discover that they recorded the “truth” of events from their perspective. This can be dangerous in a legal setting and may cause you to end up on the wrong side of a litigation decision.

To learn more at no charge, speak with one of our leading trial attorneys by calling Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-800-966-4999.

Types of Incidents

There are many types of incidents in business. Some of the most common include:

  • Personal injury incidents, which are almost identical to personal injury accidents. According to OSHA, an incident is any event in which a worker sustains an injury or in which a “near miss” occurs. “Near misses” are incidents in which a worker or patron was almost injured but escaped real damage.
  • Human resources incidents, which are events where one or more persons violate company policies, violate laws, or attempt malicious actions that cause a risk to at least one person. Your business may have multiple human resources incident files or documents, such as employee injury reports, employee misconduct reports, dangerous situation reports, and more.
  • Transportation incidents.
  • Environmental incidents, which involve events where harm or danger occurs to the environment. For example, an oil company that accidentally spills oil into the ocean needs to fill out an environmental incident report.
  • Equipment malfunction incidents.
  • Property damage incidents. Note that the property in question can belong to a company, the public, or a patron or employee, personally.

When To File an Accident Report

Filing an accident report is also crucial when an accident occurs on your business premises. Remember: The key difference between incidents and accidents is that accidents involve a personal injury to at least one party. However, accidents often include property damage as well.

In essence, while all accidents are incidents, not all incidents are accidents. You should file an accident report whenever one occurs so that you:

  • Can protect your organization from negative legal action
  • Have evidence on hand in case you need to file a lawsuit against an at-fault, injuring party
  • Have records on hand for employee misconduct decisions, customer banning decisions, and more

For additional info on accident reports, incident reports, and your options, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers now at 1-800-966-4999.

Types of Accidents

Just as there are different types of accidents, there are many kinds of incidents that can occur at businesses. Some of the most common types of accidents include:

  • Vehicle accidents. A company vehicle might be involved in an auto accident, in which case you’ll need to fill out a vehicle accident report. The accident report details the damage sustained, whether your employee was responsible, and other key information.
  • Employee accidents. Also called employee injuries, these are incidents in which employees sustain injuries from accidents or other events. Filling out employee accident forms is very important for lawsuits regarding workers’ compensation and liability. Note, too, that most workers’ compensation claims require proof of the accident via an employee accident report or similar document.
  • Property or equipment damage accidents. These occur when property or equipment is damaged in the same incident that caused a personal injury to an employee, patron, or another person. Forms to report this damage are important for discovering who is responsible, evidence in case of future litigation, and restoring the property to its previous condition.

Why Should You Report All Incidents and Accidents?

For legal reasons, you should generally file reports for all incidents and accidents at your workplace. For example, if a customer is injured at your workplace and you don’t file a report, you could face legal issues if that customer tries to sue your organization late. A prosecuting attorney might claim that your failure to fill out an accident report is indicative of you covering up the event.

Furthermore, you should file reports for all incidents and accidents at your workplace because:

  • They can be helpful when future investigations are carried out. This can be beneficial whether you are the plaintiff or defendant in a legal case.
  • They allow analysts at your organization to identify trends or statistical patterns regarding employee accidents, property safety, and more.
  • They provide key evidence and documentation for medical, insurance, and similar purposes. Employees, for instance, must be able to recover accident reports for their workers’ compensation claims.
  • They support the required legal mandates for business due diligence purposes, which, again, can prevent your organization from being unnecessarily fined.

To hear from a Schwartzapfel Lawyers’ expert directly, visit us online or call 1-800-966-4999. It will be our privilege to assist you, whether through answering your questions, providing you with a free consultation, or simply listening and then laying out your legal options.

How Lawyers Can Help With Both Incident & Accident Reports

Smaller businesses often don’t have ready-made incident and accident reports. Furthermore, they may not have reports with all the required information listed to ensure compliance with business due diligence and insurance laws.

Here and elsewhere, legal representatives can help. At Schwartzapfel Lawyers, we’ve aided New Yorkers in a wide variety of workers’ compensation, product liability, and other cases. We can also help your business draft airtight incident and/or accident reports for your filing purposes.

Moreover, we will go above and beyond in providing legal expertise and sound advice if you or a loved one is currently involved in litigation concerning a prior incident or accident. No matter your situation, we can gather evidence on your behalf, fight for you in court, and be at your side throughout the process.

Contact us today for more information as well as your free case evaluation. You can visit us online or call Schwartzapfel Lawyers directly at 1-800-966-4999. Don’t wait! Protect your future by acting now.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

No matter who you are, you should know the differences between incident reports and accident reports, as this will allow you to file correctly when the time comes. This is important and will serve to benefit you because incident reports and accident reports are vital for maintaining proper records and protecting you from legal consequences for failing to practice good business due diligence.

If you need assistance creating incident or accident reports, Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help. Our knowledgeable lawyers have successfully handled numerous accident and incident report filings in the past. We can also provide invaluable assistance to workers who need to know whether they should file an accident report for a workplace injury or event.

For the answers to your filing questions, or for a free case evaluation, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-800-966-4999.



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