Vehicle Damage: The Elusive Who Dunnit Mystery

Posted on June 17, 2015 by - Also by this author

Who really did that? And does it matter?
Who really did that? And does it matter?

I know this is a hot topic in the industry, but I am not sure anyone has a complete handle on it. When fresh damage occurs to a vehicle, determining who is responsible for it and how it will be handled seems to be a problem for everyone.

I have a friend who operates one of the largest private ambulance companies in the country. He has well over 300 ambulances, and all of them are pristine — not a scratch or flaw to be found. His policy has always been if there is new damage on a rig that wasn't there when you checked the vehicle out, you are fired. No questions asked. No excuses. Not even a consideration of whether it was your fault or not. If an ambulance has a door ding, the operator is fired for parking to close to another vehicle or leaving his vehicle unattended and allowing it to happen. Even a traffic accident where the operator was found not at fault results in his dismissal for not driving safe enough to avoid the collision. That's harsh, and quite frankly, I don't have it in my heart to maintain such a rigid policy.

However, it is very annoying to me when my detailer reports fresh damage to a vehicle and I have to track down who did it. But, even if a chauffeur comes to me to report that he caused the damage, and it was truly an accident, I am never quite sure how to handle it. Backing into a pole at night could happen to anyone, right?

I hear from so many operators about how they charge their chauffeurs for the damage caused, and while they might get away with it, all it takes is one employee to go to the Labor Board and report that deduction and you will cause yourself so much drama you will wish you never opened that drawer. It's a federal violation to charge an employee for loss or breakage caused by an accident. But, small-time uneducated operators might not even know their actions are illegal.
So, what do you do? Do you fire a top-notch chauffeur for accidental damage?

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