What not to say
By Kelly Sargent
I don't remember how it was that I happened to read an article years ago about a tactic employed by a certain group of uber-famous theme parks that I won't mention by name. It stuck in my mind, though. Fortunately.
It described an intentional strategy that all staff members were trained to employ as a means of avoiding being sued or at least mitigating the amount of damages the company could be found liable for. The truly amazing thing about this tactic is that not only is it so incredibly simple and easy to put into practice, it has the added advantage of 1000% seeming like the natural and right thing to do. The deliverer seems altruistic, a good Samaritan, even a savior.
What is it? I'll tell you, but I'm guessing at first blush, you'll be underwhelmed. Stick with me, though.
The employees are trained to be instantly there on the spot and immediately say to the injured person, "Are you okay?"
I told you you'd be underwhelmed. What's not right about that? How could that be a "tactic" to mitigate damages?
Here's how: Think about your own experiences of being injured. Once you realized that you hadn't been killed, weren't gushing blood from anywhere and seemed to have all your body parts intact, when someone near you asked if you were alright, you probably said, "I'm okay."
Obviously, if it's a severe injury, the injured party isn't likely or may not be capable of saying they're okay, but barring that extreme, it's reflexive to say, "I'm okay."
The problem is that we very likely don't know whether we're actually okay or not, because in the immediate aftermath of an injury we're often in a certain amount of shock, plus the adrenaline kicked in the micro-second you hurt yourself, literally preventing you from feeling your pain. In that moment, we lack the capacity of knowing whether or not we are in fact okay.
Beyond our immediate, frequently unreliable self-evalutation, without being properly examined by a medical professional, we don't know if we are 100% okay — or what potential ramifications may manifest in the fullness of time.
In light of that, now consider this: if someone representing the entity at fault for your injury gets you to say . . . subliminally helps you to say . . . that you're okay, documents that that's what you said, probably with witnesses, possibly has you sign something — there you are on record, with a list of witnesses, as having stated that you were in fact "okay."
Later on if complications manifest such as headaches, back problems or recalcitrant pain, and you discover that you're going to need physical therapy or other interventions, possibly having to miss work, and you seek compensation for what it will cost to make you whole again, the statements you made at the time of your injury can be used against you.
Of course what not to say, isn't just applicable at theme parks. Twice in my life I've been glad I remembered the point of the article I read. More about that next time.
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