You have probably seen this question answered many times. The standard answer is
1. Call the Police,
2. Call the insurance company,
3. Call your agent.
None of those are wrong, but an accident involving one of your trucks (or you) is a big deal and can have long lasting ramifications for everyone involved. Let’s look a little closer.
Quarterbacks don’t call for the snap and then start yelling directions. They have called a play and when the ball is snapped, it’s time to for everyone to follow the plan and execute. The same principle applies in the case of a claim. When an accident has occurred, you need to have a plan in place and have everyone onboard to execute according to the plan.
Consider these steps.
Communicate the plan to everyone.
Everyone in your company should be familiar with your accident response plan. Drivers, dispatchers and management, for obvious reasons, but all personnel should know the plan in case they field a phone call, or have to respond in some way. Don’t let your plan change without a conscious decision on your part to change it.
If there is another human involved, call Law Enforcement, period.
There is nothing to gain and much to lose by skipping this important step. Once this moment is passed, the potential for a claim is not diminished, but the opportunity to document the facts is gone forever. Who was actually in the other vehicle? Was the driver impaired? Who had the right of way? What actually happened? If the event is not documented, all bets are off.
Cooperate with Law Enforcement.
Make sure your drivers understand that they are to cooperate fully with law enforcement. Logs may not be current, the driver may be out of hours, or any number of other complications may exist that the driver would like to cover up. None of those situations get better however, by being cagey or uncooperative. Any assumption that must be made due to lack of documentation will be interpreted against you.
If possible, pictures should be taken at the scene of every possible detail. Every vehicle and its position on the road, every occupant, witness, road sign, traffic conditions, weather conditions everything. In some cases, law enforcement officers will direct your driver not to take pictures. When that happens, see the paragraph above. That’s not the time for your driver to argue Constitutional law with the police. If they say no pictures, unfortunately, no pictures.
Call the insurance carrier, from the scene.
Give your insurance carrier a chance to earn their money! They have resources, personnel, experience and expertise to deal with whatever incident has occurred. In a serious accident, they will often send insurance company personnel and independent legal defense teams to the scene while your driver is still there. It is vitally important that you give them the best opportunity to help you by notifying them immediately.
Allow us the opportunity to help facilitate the handling of your claim. Our clients have access to us 24 hours a day. We know what coverage applies and how it works. We know how and where to get help when you need it. There are many decisions to be made and we can help you make good ones.