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ARI Blog: Article

Vehicle Accident Investigation Tips

Unfortunately, for restoration contractors auto accidents are one of the primary sources for insurance claims. Given this fact, properly and thoroughly investigating all auto accidents is of extreme importance. Especially since the investigation will often uncover the conditions that caused the crash in the first place.

Why Perform a Crash Investigation?

Proper investigation helps a company can prevent future crashes, reduce human suffering, prepare for claims defense, and contribute to the bottom line. Continuous improvement can be attained by determining preventability, and by determining the need for remedial training & disciplinary actions.

Who Should Investigate the Crash?

The safety manager, if you have one, or a member of the management team should complete the initial investigation.

Investigation Checklist:

There should be a crash scene and an administrative component to the crash investigation. The following checklist, although not necessarily comprehensive, may be helpful when gathering information regarding a crash.

  • Upon arrival at the scene, make visual check to see if scene is properly protected against further crash situations.

  • Have police and insurance company been called?

  • Who was injured, how serious, and where are they now?

  • Names of the drivers of both vehicles, make, model, license number, occupants, addresses, employer?

  • Time of crash, exact location? Highway number, number miles, direction from nearest town.

  • Brief situation leading to crash.

  • Is your driver isolated from others, and has he already discussed his version of the crash with anyone at the scene? If so, who? If sent to hospital, send company personnel with him.

  • Were there witnesses? Names, addresses, license number. Include those to arrive early on scene, although they may not be witnesses.

  • Were obvious infractions noticed by witnesses?

  • Pictures made and evidence preserved before vehicles moved?

  • Names or license numbers of anyone making pictures?

  • A complete on-the-scene inspection of vehicles should be made for mechanical defects. Any further damage likely to result from operating vehicle?

  • If vehicles have been removed – where to?

  • Has all physical evidence been preserved?

  • Make a sketch of crash scene and location of vehicles.

  • Have police issued citations or made arrests – who – what charge?

  • Name of police investigators and badge numbers, city, state, etc.

  • Protect cargo.

  • Note any property damage other than the vehicles involved.

  • Negligence noted. (Speed – Sudden Stop – Overcrowded – Lights Out).

An administrative review should also be conducted in regards to the accident requiring the following questions to be asked:

  • Review the accident register. Has there been a pattern of crashes? Crash types, causes, locations, equipment, shift, time of day, day of week, etc.

  • Review driver files. Has the driver had other crashes in the past? Has there been a pattern of crashes? Crash types, causes, locations, equipment, shift, time of day, day of week, etc. Is the driver current on his required training? Does the driver meet the appropriate criteria to qualify as a driver for the type of equipment involved?

  • Review driver’s logs. Has the driver been operating his vehicle in accordance with hours of service regulations, and company policy?

  • Review vehicle maintenance records. Even if vehicle condition is not a factor in the crash, unusual maintenance patterns may indicate deficiencies in driving habits such as speeding, tailgating, poor braking or poor shining techniques.

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