Building a truck driving company is going to be a huge investment. You have put a lot of resources into your company. It can feel overwhelming when you have an accident. Your business will face all kinds of costs, including:
- Higher insurance rates
- Fines and tickets if your driver was liable
- Penalties for contract violations if you don’t meet deadlines because of the accident
- Repair costs
- Brand damages
Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to mitigate the damages.
Something that anyone driving a truck wants to prevent is an accident. A crash can be frightening and traumatic in any vehicle, but a 40-tonne vehicle, carrying goods in the rear, 18 wheels and traveling at speed doesn’t bear thinking about. The aftermath can be both career and life – ending. Employers should always provide drivers with the appropriate training and what to do if they are involved in an accident because drivers are likely to be panicky and anxious after a situation like that occurs, and the correct protocol to follow is going to be forgotten if they are not thinking straight.
If you are a truck driver and find yourself involved in a crash, try to remember these steps.
Do not apologize to anyone: This is the most important thing that you need to remember. Even if you think the accident was your fault, it is vital that you do not say ‘I’m sorry.’ Apologizing can be an automatic response, but in the aftermath of a crash, these two words can be seen as you admitting fault, and be held against you if a claim was to be made.
Stay calm: This sounds almost impossible, particularly if someone has been injured or the vehicle has been badly damaged, but it is essential that you stay calm and level- headed about the situation. Other parties involved may be aggressive – fear sometimes makes people angry – but do not react as the situation may be escalated. Instead, walk away and allow the emergency services to take control of the situation while you contact your employers and go through the accident protocol they have in place.
Collect details and witness information: If it is a serious accident, the emergency services should be notified so they can attend the scene and investigate, but if it is relatively minor, there may be no need for them to attend. In this event, you need to ensure that you the collect the details of other parties involved. Make sure you have the following information:
- full name
- contact telephone number
- insurance company details
- employer contact information if it is a commercial vehicle.
If there are witnesses to the accident around, get their details as these will be needed when it comes to deciding who is to blame and the circumstances surrounding the accident. If you can, take a photo of their license plates.
Make the scene safe: If appropriate, make the scene of the accident as secure as possible, to avoid any more injuries or accidents. Put reflectors out if you can. However, it is important that you not attempt to move the vehicle, unless directed by the emergency services as this can affect any investigations.
Take photos: Take pictures, even if any damage appears to be insignificant and take pictures from all angles and all sides of your truck and any other vehicles involved. Take close-ups pictures of the damage, but make sure that you include something in the picture to represent the size. Zoomed out photos of the scene can also be helpful, as it can help to identify witnesses or other details that you may not have been aware of at the time. If a dash-cam is fitted to your vehicle, hand over the footage to the investigators as soon as you can.
Take stock of the accident: While you are waiting for the emergency services to arrive at the scene, think about what happened, and what you think may have caused the accident. If you can, make some notes while it is still fresh in your memory. Jot down the time, where the accident happened, where vehicles and witnesses were positioned, the traffic and weather conditions and anything else that you think may be relevant. It is better to have information that is not relevant than missing something that could make a difference.
Request medical attention: Even if you do not think that you are injured, it is vital that you get seen to be a medical professional after a crash. Sometimes, injuries only become apparent later on as adrenaline or shock can stop us feeling pain straight away. Neck and back injuries are common after a crash, which, if not treated, can be dangerous and have long term effects. It is especially important if you are thinking about making a compensation claim in the future.
Don’t discuss the accident: Be really careful as to who you talk to and what you say about the crash, especially on social media and whatever you do, do not speak to anyone from the newspapers. They are notorious for misreporting, and anything you say can be twisted, and the finger of blame pointed at you. The police will more than likely want to speak t you, but it is important to stick to the facts and think carefully before answering questions. If you are not sure, truck accident lawyers can provide you with professional, legal advice. They can also come to court if necessary.
Tell your employers: Again, it is essential to think about what you say and not admit blame at this point. If you have to go to court, recordings of telephone calls and notes from meetings may be requested as evidence. Stick to the facts and keep the explanation short and to the point. The company will need to make arrangements to recover you the vehicle and let the rest of the supply chain know.
Following the accident: Once the vehicle has been recovered, you have been checked over for any possible injuries and an investigation into what happened has taken place, you need to sit down with your employers and look at what steps can be put into place to stop it from happening again. This may be relaxing time constraints, reducing working hours or giving drivers additional training. It is also a good chance to review the protocol to see what worked and what needs to be changed and for all vehicles in the fleet to be checked to ensure they meet relevant safety standards.