Car Accidents on the Clock – What to Do When Your Employee Has One

 Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes

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  • Calling the police for assistance should be the first thing you instruct your drivers to do if they are ever involved in an accident while on-the-clock
  • Make sure that everyone involved receives appropriate medical care – even if injuries are not obvious
  • Ensure that your drivers are trained to compile descriptive accounts of the car accident along with photos of all vehicles involved
  • Arrange for your driver to be transported to a drug and alcohol testing facility within two hours of the accident
  • Think ahead and identify key strategies that you can implement today to make the process of dealing with an accident even easier

Car accidents are never fun – that goes without saying. But what should you do when you get into an accident on company time? Or, even more complex, what should you tell your employees to do if they find themselves in a car accident (or truck accident) while on the clock? Well fret no more because that’s what we’re here to answer.

Hopefully, this isn’t the situation you’re in right now as you hunt for articles like this one online. Or maybe this has happened to you in the past. Whatever your current situation, let’s walk through some of the key things your drivers should do if they ever find themselves in an accident while on the clock.

This is a good time to point out that any employee that is driving while on the clock is considered a “company driver” and should fall under the guidance outlined in this article.

Call the Police

If anyone is clearly injured due to the accident, your driver (or any other unharmed individual) should immediately contact the authorities for assistance.

Calling the police should always be the first thing on your driver’s mind. If they haven’t yet contacted the authorities but have instead contacted you, make sure that they get in touch with the police immediately. General wisdom is always that you should only contact the authorities if someone is injured in the accident, but in the case of company drivers, you don’t want to leave that determination up to the employee.

You’ll also want to ensure that your driver remains at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. The police will need to document multiple pieces of information about the accident and will communicate to the driver when it is appropriate for them to leave.

Medical Treatment

Regardless of whether or not your driver is clearly injured, you should always have them seek medical attention after an accident. Ever helped a friend move and couldn’t move the next day? Some injuries are the same way and can take hours to be noticed – especially when your adrenaline is pumping. If your driver doesn’t receive treatment at the scene of the accident, make sure they take a trip to their doctor as soon as possible to get an expert opinion before they are declared “unscathed.”

File a Report of the Accident

All drivers, and especially commercial drivers, should be trained on how to go about creating an accident report – recounting the minute-by-minute specifics of the accident. It’s important that you communicate with the driver as soon after the accident as possible to ensure that as many details can be recounted as possible.

The accident report itself should contain detailed and non-biased information about the role played by everyone involved in the accident along with details regarding the damage and/or injuries caused by the accident. Additional details of relevant conditions of the accident should also be included in the accident report (e.g. weather, traffic conditions, position of the vehicles, location of the accident, time, date, etc.). The comprehensiveness of these details will help to provide critical information should it be needed by insurance companies or examined in a court of law.

Exchange Information with Everyone Involved in the Accident

Interacting with the other parties involved in the accident can be a touchy topic. It may be hard to control, but you’ll want to make sure that your drivers don’t find themselves in careless argument or overly aggressive behavior after an accident. Should any legal proceedings follow this accident, accounts of aggressive behavior will not make a good reflection of the driver’s character. Your driver should also refrain from admitting fault in any capacity. Laws vary by state and the reality is that your driver may not know whose fault the accident actually is.

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Some items that you’ll want your driver to gather from the other involved parties include the name, address, phone number, and email of each involved party. This will be critical information when/if you attempt to communicate with anyone involved in the accident later on. Your driver should also take care to gather the driver’s license number and insurance information from everyone involved.

Post-Accident Drug Test

From an administrative perspective, the next thing you’ll want to do is send your driver for a post-accident drug test. This should always be standard practice any time one of your drivers is involved in an accident to ensure that alcohol or other substances did not play a role in the accident. If your driver is a commercial driver, Department of Transportation (DOT) requires the post-accident drug and alcohol test to be completed within two hours of the accident occurring. If your driver is not covered by DOT rules, it is still a best practice to complete the drug and alcohol test within two hours to ensure that a long period of time has not passed since the accident occurred.

An often overlooked detail of a post-accident drug test is the method used to transport your driver to the drug testing facility. You should always make arrangements for your driver to be transported to the facility. You do not want a driver that was just in an accident to get back into a vehicle and drive to a facility if there is a chance that they are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Pre-Accident Tips

Overall, dealing with an accident can be a hectic situation – especially if you and your team are unprepared to handle it. Scouring the internet for articles like this one are the last thing you should be doing when one of your drivers was just in an accident so take care to communicate with your drivers and let them know what they should do if they ever find themselves in an accident while on the clock.

Here are a couple tips to consider when developing a post-accident process for your drivers:

Document a Post-Accident Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

Conducting a post-accident drug test is difficult enough when you have a driver out in the field that needs to be transported to a testing facility. If you don’t have an existing policy in place, it can make this job much more difficult. Ensure that you have a well thought-out and thorough drug testing policy that includes post-accident scenarios. If you don’t, you could run into potential issues if you’re treating your drivers differently under similar conditions. You’ll also want to ensure that you have the proper infrastructure in place to handle results from the drug and alcohol test and how to interpret them.

Invest in Technology for Frequent Driving

There are many tools out there to monitor the driving of your drivers. If you operate in a trucking environment, you may already be well aware of some of the advanced tools at your disposal. Without going too crazy on the plethora of driving tools out there, let’s focus on one tool in particular that can help you in an accident scenario – dash cams.

Dash cams come in all shapes and sizes but there are certain cameras that are certified as admissible evidence in a court of law. Now, they aren’t cheap. But if it’s peace of mind you’re after and want to adopt a driver policy that involves little interaction with the other parties involved, dash cams can let the video speak for itself. If you have drivers in the field frequently, dash cams could be well worth the investment.

Closing Thoughts

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