Accidents happen. And if you’ve never been in one, consider yourself lucky. In fact, the average American driver can expect to be in three or four accidents in their lifetime – and that’s just as likely to happen while driving a company vehicle as it is driving your family car.
In general, companies are usually deemed responsible for their employees’ actions while on the clock. Meaning, when there’s a crash involving a company vehicle, if the driver of the commercial vehicle was working at the time of the crash and is found to be at fault, the company that owns the vehicle is likely to be held liable for damages.
So, what should you do if you’ve gotten into an accident with someone driving a commercial vehicle? Alternatively, what should you do if you’re the commercial vehicle driver and have crashed your company car or work truck?
Here are five key steps to take if you’ve been involved in a commercial vehicle accident:
- Seek medical treatment if needed
Your priority is always that of yourself, your loved ones and the colleagues traveling with you. Before you take any additional steps, it’s important to assess the health and well-being of those involved in the accident. If there are injuries, make sure you call 911 immediately and get help. Especially if the accident you’ve been involved in is between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, serious injuries could be present.
- Report the accident immediately
Even if there are no serious injuries, it’s important to call the police and file a report for documentation. Whether you’re the driver of the commercial vehicle or the person who’s been hit by one, tell the police officer everything you remember about the accident, including minor details. Nothing is unimportant.
- Exchange information
After you’ve reported the accident to the police, give the other driver your information, and vice versa. Here’s a list of details you should gather:
- Full name and contact information
- Employer/company name
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color and model of vehicle
- Location of accident
The Insurance Information Institute also recommends not discussing who’s at fault when going over the facts of the accident with the other driver. It’s up to your insurance company and adjuster to determine who’s at fault based on vehicle/property damage, information provided by you and the other driver, the police report and any supporting photographs taken at the scene.
- Take numerous pictures
As mentioned before, documentation is key when it comes to a commercial vehicle accident – or any accident, for that matter. Since nearly everyone has a mobile phone these days, it’s important to take numerous pictures. Take pictures of the accident before vehicles are moved to the side of the road, but only if it can be done safely. Take pictures from different angles of the scene, your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle. Pictures are extremely helpful for insurance purposes and potential legal proceedings. They also help you remember what happened during the accident since details tend to become fuzzy over time.
If you were the one driving the commercial vehicle, it’s also important keep in mind that the other driver might want to try to hold your employer accountable for the crash because they think they can obtain more money. This is another reason why proper documentation is so critical to your insurance adjuster. If the collision isn’t your fault, you’ll need the right information to prove it.
- Call your employer and contact their insurance company
You should contact your employer as soon as possible and inform them of the accident. You’ll want to then call your company’s insurance agent while you’re still on scene, if possible. This will help you to provide any information they may request regarding vehicle/property damage, location of the accident, etc.
An accident can rattle even the most seasoned driver. But an accident with a company vehicle can prove even more nerve wracking. By following these five steps, you can help minimize your company’s risk and focus on working with the insurance agent (and legal counsel) to make sure you’re acting in the company’s best interest and get the vehicle repaired as quickly as possible.
Have questions about your personal or commercial insurance? Contact us to speak with a licensed insurance professional.