Being in trucking means you likely have seen injuries claimed when there is nary a scratch on the other vehicle; car or truck. You may feel frustrated or even helpless when you learn that the treating doctor has opined that the Patient (your “claimant”) has in fact sustained an injury as a result of the seemingly innocent collision. For the purposes of this article we will cover both 3rd Party Liability accidents as well as Workers’ Compensation and we will describe how best to respond and even successfully challenge these claims.
Too often a Driver reports that they had a minor accident and there were no injuries. Good. You like to hear that but before you take that report to the proverbial bank we suggest, as we have for over 15 years, that ANY accident involving an occupied vehicle should cause you or your fleet or your Adjuster to secure and immediate, digital, recorded statement. Until you hear the words; “I am not injured” you must pursue a statement which details precisely what happened to the occupant(s) upon impact. What part of their body was affected and in what direction were they moved/thrown? Did their head hit anything? The major joints should be questioned as to whether they were injured, most especially the back and neck.
Low speed collisions are money makers for Physicians, Claimants and their Attorneys. Busy Adjusters may not have the time to delve into the mechanics of the alleged injury and determine or at least begin to question whether an injury was even possible. Example: sideswipe accidents with both vehicles traveling at 50mph equates to a lateral velocity of roughly 2-3mph. That normally will not produce an injury.
The recorded statement, when done thoroughly, will document in excruciating detail the movement of the body which can be of immense help when the claimant later reports to the physician that they were thrown about the inside of the car and struck their knee, head, etc.
Know that a very effective scientific analysis can be performed which will confirm whether or not an injury could have resulted from the forces imparted upon the occupant(s). These cost-effective reports and animation should be quickly shared with the treating doctor and attorney (along with photos of the scratches or minor dents) to establish that:
- You have invested in the case (it is that serious to you)
- The analysis proves no injury could have resulted (confirmed by the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards; Sect. 208)
- You are stipulating only that an injury did not result from this collision and NOT that the Claimant does not have an injury. In effect you are firing a significant salvo that will put a “lid” on further medical treatment thereby reducing the severity of the claim and, quite possibly, avoid a lawsuit.
- The lawyer will reconsider the reality of the case when they open the Next Day Air envelope and read the Force Analysis Report, Animation and Photos.
- Immediate statement from all Occupants (detail movement of the body)
- Photos. Photos (damage to other vehicle)
- If minor collision/impact advise Claimant and/or Attorney that you will have an Engineer assess the damage to determine if the collision could have caused an injury (why not attempt to intimidate?)
- If a Workers’ Compensation claim is filed by the Claimant be quick to contact the WC Adjuster to advise you are questioning the relatedness of the collision to the injuries. They may even help with expenses!
- Be quick to share at least photos of the collision with the Plaintiff Attorney (if any) to show the minor impact (most times attorneys do not bother with an investigation and accept the verbal report from the Claimant as gospel)
Primacy conducts analysis of Low Speed Collisions (rear end, side-swipe, backing, etc.) and can offer a no-commitment/no cost review
John Liberatore (firstname.lastname@example.org)