Protecting Social Workers from Negligence Claims Through Liability Insurance

August 07, 2018

Liability Insurance Saves the Day

Social workers take on a personal commitment to help others. It is a rewarding field that helps improve the overall well-being and quality of life of individuals, groups, and even entire communities. However, despite its many rewards, social work can be risky business. Social workers not only undergo numerous educational requirements and intense training, but they must also adhere to countless and ever-changing government regulations and licensing requirements. Social workers try to do their best to make the right call for everyone involved, but despite their best intentions, they sometimes miss or misconstrue signals. This is why it is absolutely essential that social workers obtain liability insurance before tackling their first case. Taking the time to invest in the appropriate insurance policies now to protect against potential lawsuits later can save you a lot of headaches and red tape in the long run.

Suing Social Services for Negligence

One of the many potential risks a social worker takes from day to day is the possibility that a client will file a negligence claim against social services. A client may or may not be justified in filing a negligence claim, but even when the social worker is not found guilty of the claim, professional liability insurance is necessary to ensure they have the proper legal defense as well as coverage for damages or settlements.

Professional Liability Insurance for Social Workers

Professional liability insurance is also sometimes referred to as errors and omissions insurance, or E&O insurance. This type of liability insurance is specifically designed to protect businesses that provide professional services against claims filed by a client involving negligence, and errors. Some examples of when it is necessary to have professional liability insurance include:

Sexual Misconduct

A male social worker is working on a case that involves a 14-year-old girl. The social worker realizes the girl has developed a crush on him, so he removes himself from the case and suggests a female caseworker take over. The girl is angered and accuses the social worker of sexual misconduct. In an instance such as this, professional liability insurance provides coverage for the social worker. If necessary, an attorney will also be appointed to defend the worker.


A social worker is working with a family that includes an elderly man who has just undergone surgery and requires extra attention. He is staying in his son's home with his son, his son's wife, and their two children. The son has a history of alcohol abuse, and the daughter-in-law must be away from home for work a large part of the time. When the man develops pneumonia and must be hospitalized, outside family members determine the man has not been properly taken care of, and they decide the social worker is to blame.

In this instance, professional liability insurance can protect the company and the social worker from false accusations. If the need arises, an attorney will be appointed. Professional liability insurance is necessary to protect social workers from frivolous or untrue claims. Additionally, this type of liability insurance will provide coverage in instances of errors and omissions made on the social worker's behalf. In some cases, these lawsuits may not even arise until years after the alleged incident occurred. Make certain you have the proper insurance to provide you and your employees with qualified legal defense and coverage.

Suing Social Services for Slander

Can a social work be sued for slander? Yes. Social workers can be sued by clients for slander. For example, a social worker has just had a rough meeting with a client and makes some untrue allegations against him to another social worker. Another client overhears these remarks, and the conversation gets back to the client against whom the remarks were made. That client immediately sues the social worker for slander. In a case such as this, general liability insurance can protect and cover you against third-party claims of slander.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance is sometimes referred to as commercial general liability, or CGL. This type of liability insurance covers your business in the event that someone claims bodily injury or property damage. It may also cover you if your business is sued for slander. Some examples include:

Bodily Injury

A client visits your office and is upset. In his anger and frustration, he gets up out of his chair too fast, loses his balance, and falls. General liability insurance will ensure you are protected against third-party claims for bodily injury as well as any medical costs that are incurred.

Property Damage