There's No Such Thing as a Minor Accident
YOU’RE STUCK IN STOP-AND-GO traffic on a bright, sunny afternoon. You’re being careful to keep proper stopping distance between your coach and the car in front of you. Now an SUV squeezes between you and the car in front of you, and immediately brakes because of traffic. You do your best to stop, but bump the rear of the SUV.
It’s a light impact, and you're barely even aware it happened. You pull over, exchange information, and look at both vehicles. In your examination, you see a scuff mark on the rear bumper of the SUV. The truck also has minor scratches.
The police are not called because there are no injuries claimed at the scene, so you chalk it up to a lousy day, get back on the coach, and continue on to your destination after reporting it to dispatch as a no-damage incident.
Upon returning to your garage, your maintenance colleagues buff out the scratches. You hope the rest of your week goes better.
Eighteen months later, you are served at home with a lawsuit. You bring the paperwork to the office the next morning, and find that your company also has been sued. It turns out a passenger in the SUV is claiming he suffered a neck injury as a result of the incident, which required two spinal surgeries amounting to over $600,000 in medical expenses. You and the company barely even remember the incident!
As Owner Operator Direct and our defense attorneys work with you to investigate the accident, you have to confess that you did not take damage photos of the vehicles or get the names of your witnesses who saw the incident.
You also have to admit that you did not know there were any passengers in the SUV. And perhaps worst of all, the video from the event video recorder on the truck has long been written over.
Although you tell your story about what happened in your deposition, unfortunately, there is no witness testimony, photos or video to back you up. The plaintiff has demanded $2 million to settle his claim out of court.
This troubling (and unnecessary!) scenario is becoming alarmingly more frequent. And while Owner Operator Direct defends these cases aggressively, you can strengthen the defense significantly by doing the following:
• Make sure your passengers are uninjured and the coach is in a safe location;
• Call local authorities; don’t assume they will not respond to a ‘minor’ accident;
• If you have one, notify your dispatcher promptly;
• Call Owner Operator Direct immediately at 800-432-6608 and report the claim
• Take photos of both vehicles at the scene, especially if there is little or no damage;
• Preserve any available video from the EVR;
• Obtain the names and contact information for the driver and any passengers in the other vehicle; • Obtain the names and contact information for your passengers; and
• Check for any witnesses at the scene.
These simple steps help our claims professionals gather and maintain all critical information, allowing them to begin a thorough investigation of the accident. Immediate claim reporting puts Lancer in the best position to protect you and your employer from exaggerated claims.
Owner Operator Direct provides commercial truck insurance for owner operators, whether they are leased or operating under their own authority. We provide the most broad coverage in the business for semi trucks, at very competitive rates. If you want a quote, give us a ring at 800-499-1044. Or answer a few questions here and we'll give you an online truck insurance quote.