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Accidents happen. The average American driver can expect to be in three or four accidents in their lifetime – and that’s just as likely to happen while driving a company vehicle as it is driving the family car.

In general, companies are usually deemed responsible for their employees’ actions while on the clock. When there’s a crash involving a company vehicle, if the driver was working at the time of the crash and is found to be at fault, the company that owns the vehicle is likely to be held liable for damages.

What should an employee do if they’ve gotten into an accident with someone driving a commercial vehicle? Alternatively, what should the employee do if they are the commercial vehicle driver who crashed the company car or work truck?

Here are five key steps to take if involved in a commercial vehicle accident.

1. Seek medical treatment if needed

An employee’s priority is always themselves, their loved ones and the colleagues traveling with them. Before taking any additional steps, it’s important to assess the health and well-being of those involved in the accident. If there are injuries, make call 911 immediately and get help, especially if the accident is between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle where there could be serious injuries.

2. Report the accident immediately

Even if there are no serious injuries, it’s important to call the police and file a report for documentation. Whether the driver of the commercial vehicle or the person who’s been hit by one, tell the police officer everything about the accident, including minor details. Nothing is unimportant.

3. Exchange information

After the accident has been reported to the police, exchange information with the other driver. Here’s a list of details to gather:

  • full name and contact information;
  • employer/company name;
  • insurance company and policy number;
  • driver’s license and license plate number;
  • type, color and model of vehicle; and
  • location of accident

The Insurance Information Institute also recommends not discussing who’s at fault when going over the facts of the accident with the other driver. It’s up to the insurance company and adjuster to determine who’s at fault based on vehicle/property damage, information provided by both drivers, the police report and any supporting photographs taken at the scene.

4. Take numerous pictures

Documentation is key when it comes to a commercial vehicle accident – or any accident, for that matter. Take pictures of the accident before vehicles are moved to the side of the road, but only if it can be done safely. Take pictures from different angles of the scene and of both vehicles. Pictures are extremely helpful for insurance purposes and potential legal proceedings. They also help remember what happened during the accident since details tend to become fuzzy over time.

If an employee was driving the commercial vehicle, it’s also important keep in mind that the other driver might want to try to hold the employer accountable for the crash because they think they can obtain more money. This is another reason proper documentation is so critical to the insurance adjuster. If the collision isn’t the employee’s fault, the company will need the right information to prove it.

5. Call the employer, then contact the insurance company

Contact the employer as soon as possible and inform them of the accident. Have the employee call the company’s insurance agent while still on scene, if possible. This will help to provide the agents any information they may need regarding vehicle/property damage, location of the accident, etc.

An accident can rattle even the most seasoned driver. But an accident with a company vehicle can prove even more nerve wracking. By following these five steps, company risk can be minimized and focus on working with the insurance agent (and legal counsel) to make sure the employee involved is acting in the company’s best interest and get the vehicle repaired as quickly as possible.

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