No one ever goes into the business of helping people thinking they will be sued. As a massage therapist or other wellness industry professional, you want to help people feel better physically and emotionally. But, just like a doctor trying to perform a surgery, you need to have all the patient’s information before starting the procedure. You need to know if your client has a history of blood clots, muscle injuries, or skin conditions or allergies that might react negatively to stimulation or products you use. Take for example Joan*, a massage therapist who had been working part-time for 10 years.
Joan had a successful part-time massage therapy business that helped bring in extra income to support her family. Joan loved meeting new people and building her client list almost exclusively through referrals. One day, she had a new client come in for an appointment. The client reported that he enjoyed running a lot and wanted to get a massage to help his recovery. Joan proceeded to give this new client a running-specific sports massage. The client paid for the massage and left, seemingly satisfied with the work Joan had done.
About a month later, Joan was served notice that she was being sued for negligence by that same client. He alleged that she had damaged his right hamstring muscle to the point he could not walk, much less continue running. He was seeking $25,000 in damages plus medical expenses for the physical therapy he had to go through. Unfortunately, Joan hadn’t gotten any medical history from her client. Her new client form only asked for contact information and what types of massage they prefer. What Joan didn’t know was that this client had torn his hamstring a month before the massage. The sports massage aggravated the injury, causing him to require more physical therapy.
Joan wasn’t responsible for the injury, and she didn’t show negligence in her duty of care for her client, so can the client sue? The answer is yes, and Joan still has to deal with the legal expenses to defend herself and her business. She doesn’t have a lawyer on retainer, nor does she have $25,000 to give. This is where a good insurance plan comes in.
Being insured protects you from these types of claims, and being part of an association like Alternative Balance can give you the right tools for your business. In Joan’s case, she would have had access to massage client intake forms that cover medical issues that could be affected by a massage. Had Joan known that the client’s hamstring had been injured, she would have handled it differently. If that still didn’t prevent the lawsuit, she would have had access to an attorney and coverage for her defense costs.
At Alternative Balance, we know that you care about your clients’ wellbeing and we want to make sure your business thrives. If you have questions, please contact us.