"That thou doest, do quickly"
Emergency Medical Technicians call it the "golden hour." Law enforcement personnel refer to it as the "window of opportunity." Limousine claim specialists label it the "case compass."
What are these disparate professionals referring to in their industry specific jargon?
Simply put: The very brief period of time following a medical, criminal, or accident situation in which the respective practitioners have the ability to quickly intervene and set the course of future events - for better or for worse.
The Phone Call Starts the Clock
For a limousine company owner, his or her ability to control, rather than be controlled by events following an accident involving a company vehicle is very short lived. And, with that being the case, critical proactive steps must be taken by company management and its insurer immediately.
Lancer's limousine claim specialists suggest you consider taking most, if not all, of the "dos and don'ts" actions listed below in the first 15-60 minutes after receiving notification of an accident involving one of your limousines.
- Ensure that immediate needs of the injured are addressed
- Notify emergency responders
- If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location
- Activate & deploy, flashers, flares and safety triangles
- Have staff available to respond to family inquiries regarding passengers
- Activate your media response plan
- Identify and direct witnesses to the police
- Photograph involved vehicles & the surrounding scene
- Report the accident to your insurance company
- Forward the names and contact information of passengers to your insurer
- Place a "freeze" on all documentation related to the involved vehicle & driver, including electronic records
- Prepare for regulatory review; get your records in order.
- Ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements
- Do not admit to any liability
- Do not apologize, but express care and concern
- Do not download data from ECM or remove an event video recording device until after speaking with your claims representative or insurer's attorney
- Do not initiate repairs or alter condition of your vehicle until after speaking with your claims representative or insurer's attorney
- Do not commit to paying for property damage, medical bills or claims of any type until after speaking with your claims representative.
The key to managing a serious limousine accident is to have a written crisis management plan in place. Key responsibilities must be assigned to specific individuals in the company and, if possible, simulations to test the plan (and people) must be performed on some periodic basis to make sure that the plan and its implementers can stand up to the pressures presented by a real accident.
In the absence of a plan and company personnel prepared to carry it out, you are left in a position of reacting to events and lose control of your ability to effectively manage the situation in its critical early stages.