Another Checklist for Rapid Response to Catastrophic Accident
DISCLAIMER: The following are the thoughts and impressions of Christy Comstock at he law firm of Everett& Wales in Fayetteville, AR and have not been adopted, expressly or implicitly, by the law firm of Perkins & Associates, LLC.
Like many of my peers in the defense of trucking accidents, I have personalized detailed checklist, camera and supplies readily available in my vehicle to be on the road at a moment’s notice. We do this so that our clients get the best service and the preservation of evidence almost immediately.
The checklist is not intended to be exhaustive but rather an initial guide. of information that I use to obtain as much information as possible.
· Identify exact location of accident.
· Determine owner of tractor, trailer and cargo.
· Identify employer of commercial motor vehicle driver.
· Ascertain whether any environmental or hazardous conditions exist and discuss timely and appropriate response with client.
· Retain an approved independent adjuster.
· Locate driver.
· Determine if driver is out of service.
· Determine whether DOT drug and alcohol testing is required; and determine whether testing has been conducted or can be conducted appropriately and within DOT time limitations. §382.303
Very soon –
· Determine whether law enforcement has directed drug/alcohol testing to be conducted.
· Determine whether the motor carrier has independent drug/alcohol testing requirements and protocol which must be satisfied.
· Discuss retention of an accident reconstructionist with motor carrier and where appropriate, retain.
· Determine whether a biomechanical engineer and/or other experts should be retained for scene investigation and vehicle inspection, and where appropriate, retain.
· Determine location of tractor. Where appropriate, make arrangements for download or removal of electronic data recorders on the tractor.
v Arrange on-site download of electronic data recorder prior to starting engine or tow to remote download site.
· Direct any necessary post-accident inspections.
· Determine a reasonable time for hold on tractor for third party post-accident inspections.
· Contact driver. If medically available, arrange for interview of driver.
· Determine whether the driver requires separate counsel.
· Determine whether driver requires criminal counsel if charges are pending or imminent.
· Obtain driver’s photographs of the accident scene.
· Obtain any driver accident forms completed by driver.
· Obtain a copy of any citations issued to the driver.
· Obtain copies of any statements given by driver to 3rd parties.
· Determine whether a post-accident medical examination of driver will be required.
· Determine whether driver is disqualified by this event.
· Obtain HIPAA compliant release from driver regarding testing results. §3 82.405
· Identify all claimants and nature and extent of injuries.
· Determine whether toxicology testing of claimants has occurred.
· In fatality accidents, identify funeral home & coroner and learn whether autopsies will be conducted.
· Identify all witnesses.
· Procure witness statements through independent
· Consider court reported witness statements where appropriate.
Law Enforcement –
· Interview the investigating officer.
· Interview the DOT officer.
· Obtain law enforcement officers’ field notes, measurements and photographs.
· Obtain copy of post-crash inspection report.
· Arrange for accident reconstructionist to meet with investigating officer where appropriate.
· Obtain accident report and any supplemental reports.
· Obtain all 91 1 reports for time period preceding and including the accident.
Fire & Ambulance –
· Identify all emergency responders to accident.
· Obtain run reports and call logs for fire fighters and first responders.
Scene Preservation –
· Obtain photographs of scene, tire marks, debris field, signage and vehicles through independent adjuster and/or accident reconstructionist.
· Identify applicable speed limits, signage or other posted warnings.
· Obtain sequence and timing of all relevant traffic control devices.
· In addition to still photography, consider whether aerial and video photography is appropriate.
· Obtain accident site history with respect to other accidents in same proximity.
· Inquire as to lighting, signage, barricades, detours, roadway construction, and any factors affecting visibility.
· Identify contractors conducting roadway construction in the vicinity.
· Obtain published weather reports for date and location of accident.
· Obtain copies of photographs taken by law enforcement, coroners, fire departments, towing companies, company officials, and media.
· Obtain copies of all traffic camera footage. Also, search for security cameras in the area. You would astonished at how often this information is not even reviewed.
· Obtain copies of any broadcast media coverage of accident, along with raw data.
· Obtain Internet data regarding accident. Don’t forget Facebook, MySpace and other blogging/posting websites.
Other Vehicles –
· Determine location and owners of all vehicles involved in crash.
· Determine if electronic data recorders on other vehicles in the accident should be preserved and if so, immediately request preservation.
· Determine whether purchase of salvage vehicles is appropriate.
Document preservation –
· Procure cell phone records for all drivers involved in the accident.
· Inquire as to availability of communication data and preserve at least (6) months of existing data.
· Inquire as to the availability of other electronic forms of data and if available preserve at least (6) months of existing data.
· Subject to motor carrier policies, acquire copies of the following relevant documentation from the trucking company (not listed here so that adverse counsel are not aware of what to request):
We KNOW that accidents are more rare than the general public perceives, but we know also that when an accident happens the trucking industry needs the best and most qualified to assist them immediately. For over twenty years, we have been available to the industry and we will continue for as long as products are carried across the highways of Louisiana and Texas.
If you ever need assistance, day or night, weekends or holidays, call me but ONLY if you are a truck driver, trucking company or insurance carrier because we ONLY DEFEND the trucking industry.
Perkins & Associates, LLC
Shreveport, LA 71101