What is an accident kit?
An accident kit can be as simple as an envelope of forms provided by your insurance company or a self-built kit in a tackle box. Some insurance companies will provide you with contents for your own kit, including disposable cameras. The kit should have the tools necessary to document an accident scene, including witness cards, a camera, a street diagram and a “face sheet” to collect very basic information of who was involved, date, time and location.
Who should carry an accident kit?
You should have at least two or more kits made up and distributed to management employees trained in documenting an accident scene. Online courses are available. Kits should be stored in vehicles normally driven by the staff that would respond to an accident scene. People assigned to respond to accidents must be prepared to speak to law enforcement and media and have excellent communication skills in public speaking and detailed documentation.
Planning for an accident
Decide in advance who will respond to a crash at 2 a.m. Don’t try to figure this out in the middle of the night. Accidents tend to be chaotic by nature so try to eliminate unnecessary phone calls and wasted time by knowing exactly who will take the accident kit to the scene and perform the duty. Everyone needs to remain calm and organized.
Drug & alcohol testing kit
Drivers regulated by FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) must be drug and alcohol tested as soon as practically possible following a crash. The sooner, the better as it demonstrates to your insurance carrier, clients, employees and government officials that you are committed to a safe and drug-free workplace. Results immediately can remove any doubt that drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor in an accident. Ask your drug testing or safety company to provide you with an “after-hours kit.” The kit consists of a small canister to collect a urine sample. The canister has a seal that is placed on the lid after obtaining the specimen. The sealed canister goes into a small cardboard box that is also sealed to maintain the integrity of the sample. The specimen can be delivered to the lab first thing in the morning.
Using documentation tools
Document the entire scene with photos of the vehicles, skid marks, the “debris field,” street lighting, intersection controls, injuries and anything you see that might be relative. Ask independent witnesses, your driver and passengers to complete witness statements about what they remember just before the crash. Draw a complete diagram of the roadway, including the locations of vehicles, signal lights and roadway lights. Do not rely on the police reports. A jury may not see the accident the same way an officer did and an officer’s determination of fault is merely his opinion. In many cases, motor vehicle accident cases that end up in litigation are divided into a percentage of fault for judgment purposes.
All the documents from an accident kit should be kept in a safe place. It is not recommended that you provide any of the information to anyone except upon request. In the event of litigation, it is likely going to be years before the information will be used. It likely would be requested in a deposition hearing where all documents relating to the accident would be needed. Inform your insurance claims representative that you have such information, but it is not necessary to furnish it to the insurance company unless asked to do so.
Related: Are You Prepared For Disaster? A Peek Inside The Crisis Box