How you, as a professional truck driver, responds at the scene of an accident can have a major impact on the outcome of any claims that may follow. Knowing what to do, and more importantly, what not to do at the scene of an accident is something all truck drivers should know before an accident occurs.
Here’s a list of five things drivers should never do at the scene of an accident:
Do not leave the scene – Drivers should stay at the scene of an accident. Depending on the severity of the accident, drivers should not leave until the police, emergency responders or, in less severe incidents, your company’s Safety Manager, say you can leave. This may sound like common sense, but leaving the scene of an accident happens all the time and creates problems for everyone involved.
Do not get argumentative or physical – picking a fight, verbal or physical, will only make a bad situation worse. If need be, remove yourself from the situation by staying in your vehicle until police or other mediators arrive on the scene.
Do not discuss the facts of the accident with anyone other than your company and the police – at the scene of an accident, it may be impossible to know who you are talking to. While an innocent bystander may simply be curious about what happened, you could just as easily be speaking with an ambulance chaser. In some cases, unsuspecting drivers have spoken to attorneys who have approached drivers under the guise of being from their insurance company.
Do not admit to liability at the scene or volunteer to make payments – while it may be human nature to want to say “sorry” when something goes wrong, it is important to know that that saying it can be twisted by a prosecutor into an admission of guilt. While you may very well feel bad, even if you are not the direct cause, avoid saying sorry. The only way to determine who’s at fault is for a full investigation to take place. Let the experts determine where the liability falls based on the facts, not a simple phrase.
Do not delay reporting an accident – no matter how minor it may seem, reporting accidents quickly helps you prepare to respond. Days, hours and even minutes can matter when it comes to collecting evidence and gathering testimony. Even minor fender benders should be reported right away.
As truck drivers, it isn’t really a question of if you will ever be involved in an accident; it is a matter of when. Be prepared to be professional by understanding what not to do at the scene of an accident. If you want to learn more about what to do and what not to do at the scene of an accident, speak with your company’s Safety Manager.