Updated: Aug 30, 2022
Are your drivers prepared for a crash investigation?
Truck-car crashes happen every day. According to the American Trucking Association and FMCSA, in 80-85% of cases the passenger vehicle driver is at fault. But proving that is not always so simple. The driver behind the 5-ton-plus semi-truck is often an easy target to point blame. Ensuring professional drivers are properly prepared for a crash investigation is vital to managing a fleet’s risk and avoiding a difficult verdict or settlement.
Crash investigation preparation checklist
Use this checklist of questions to help determine how prepared your drivers and your company are when a crash inevitably happens.
Do your drivers know the first steps when a crash happens?
How to clear the road and safely remain on the scene?
What do in the case of death of severe injury?
How to report?
Who to report to?
Do your drivers know how to interact with law enforcement?
How to keep calm and focused on the facts?
How to answer questions without sharing opinions and admitting fault?
Do your drivers know how to be good information gatherers?
What photos and angles are a must to take?
How to log crash information?
What conditions (weather, speed, vehicles and factors involved, witnesses) to note?
Do your drivers know the appropriate company contact at all times?
Who to contact in the middle of the night and on holidays?
Who the media spokesperson is?
Does your company have a well-established media communications plan?
Do your drivers know what to say when questioned by the media?
Do you have a media spokesperson designated at all times: evenings, holidays and vacations?
Does your company conduct crash investigation trainings?
Do you conduct initial trainings and regular refresh trainings?
Have you re-educated your experienced drivers with today’s best practices and technologies?
Does your insurance provider help manage risk around crash investigations?
Does your provider conduct risk audits?
Does your provider assist with trainings?
PayneWest Insurance is a long-time leader in the transportation sector. With more than four decades of experience working with fleet owners and managers across the Northwest, our knowledgeable team offers exclusive risk assessments, a dedicated claims team to help guide clients through any unfortunate loss circumstance, and a critical eye to often-overlooked dangers, such as lack of training, personal liability, physical damage and cargo risks.
Contact the PayneWest transportation team today to discuss your fleet’s risks.
Sales Executive. Transportation Practice
One wrong sentence cost millions of dollars
“I guess I could have…” In a truck-car crash where all facts pointed fault at the passenger vehicle driver, the plaintiff’s attorney successfully argued the fault was on the professional driver using this quote from the professional driver’s statement in a law enforcement report. The case resulted in a $3.5 million settlement. Words matter and making sure your drivers know what to say and how to articulate the facts of a crash in a stressful situation is important.
The most important 24 hours
In lawsuits concerning truck-car crashes, plaintiffs’ attorneys often wait to file until the state statute of limitations is nearing. In most states, the civil court statute of limitations is two or three years. By waiting, these attorneys are counting on memory loss and lost facts about the crash to give them the advantage. For a motor carrier’s defense, what’s reported and logged in the 24-hour window after a crash when the investigation is most active is crucial years later if a lawsuit is filed.