The Investigation of Business Vehicle Accidents

Despite horrifying statistics on the extent of motor vehicle accidents in the workplace, and numerous safety guidelines, fatalities in the US are high. There is a process for investigating these incidents and it starts with the workplace and insurers. In some cases, it is necessary to get a forensic investigator to establish the facts.

The Scope of Business Vehicle Accidents in the USA

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2,122 deaths that resulted from transportation incidents, making up almost 40% of all occupational injuries in 2019. This indicates that vehicle collisions are the leading cause of fatalities in the workplace in America. Over the same period, employers paid out in excess of $39 billion for transportation-related injuries at work.

Not using seatbelts is one of the riskiest driving practices and it has been shown that one in five Americans do not comply with the law in this regard. Yet wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of a fatality for 60% of drivers of trucks and SUVs, and 45% of those in cars. Compliance saves the lives of 14,000 US citizens annually.

One has to wonder what is being done to reduce this crisis.

Safety Recommendations

Many of these accidents could have been prevented by safety training and familiarizing employees with the OSHA recommendations for vehicle safety in the workplace. OSHA, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) produced Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes.

The US Department of Transport has a charter on motor vehicle safety provisions. Similarly, in a partnership with the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), it introduced the Drive Safely Work Week. This is in addition to awareness activities and educational programs to improve work vehicle safety.

The Investigation of Business Vehicle Incidents

An accident investigation report template can make it easier to capture all the pertinent information related to a business vehicle incident. It is completed by the health and safety officer, or an investigator assigned to probe for the facts. The investigator will typically be a manager or supervisor.

The purpose of the investigation is to provide information to the vehicle fleet insurer, establish the costs of damage, and determine how such accidents can be prevented in the future.

The matter may be handled internally and with insurers, if no one was hurt and no third party was involved. When fatalities occur, the police will naturally be involved.

Determining Liability and Claims in Business Vehicle Incidents

There are often gray areas when it comes to assigning blame in a vehicle collision. Insurance investigators will usually be involved in determining the guilty party. If they decide that a state of no-fault exists, each driver will settle their claims through their insurers.

However, when the outcome of an accident is contested in court, or someone wants to claim damages for severe medical injuries, it may be necessary to hire a forensic investigator. For example, a tire may have blown out, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The forensic investigator in this instance will be a tire failure expert who will establish if the tire was faulty. The company would also have experts in other aspects of vehicle collisions.

Reducing motor vehicle accidents in the workplace is the responsibility of every employer and employee.

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