Case Study: Bus Crash

What Happened

I received a telephone call from a motorcoach company today and the owner advised that they had had a multi-bus collision over the weekend. He advised that he had already reported it to his insurance company and his insurance agent. He wanted to know what I would recommend doing after this accident.

All of the buses involved in the accident were owned by this company and they were driven by company drivers as a shuttle service. All the buses were following each other; the accident occurred because the first driver had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting another vehicle and this resulted in the other three buses rear ending each other. There was damage to all vehicles. The owner stated that his insurance company had asked how many passengers were on each of the buses. Since this was a shuttle service, there was not an accurate count of the number of passengers on each bus.

What to Do Now

There are a couple of lessons we can learn from this situation. First, when you have multiple vehicles following each other on a trip, it is a good idea to leave enough space between each vehicle, so there is not a possibility of a multi-vehicle collision. Second, even though they were operating a shuttle, the drivers could have kept a headcount. Using a simple counting device as passengers enter the vehicle can help your insurance company know how many potential claims they are facing.

We also discussed the importance of maintaining evidence. Remember, the goal after an accident is to “freeze time.” You don’t want to have a claim for spoliation of evidence on top of all the other claims. I advised the owner to make sure that he makes a complete copy of the driver files and maintenance files. He advised that he had his drivers complete a drug and alcohol test immediately after the accident and that was the right thing to do. I also suggested that he tell his drivers to be prepared to have their phone records reviewed and their social media accounts reviewed. More than likely, this type of accident will involve some type of attorney and they generally review that type of information.

I also suggested that the owner talk to all of the drivers and make sure that they only speak to the insurance company representative. I further recommended that the drivers should notify the owner immediately if anyone tries to contact them about the accident and for the owner to verify that the contact is from his insurance company. You don’t want to have your drivers giving a recorded statement to someone other than your insurance company. It’s also a good idea to advise your drivers in this type of situation to cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation.

Lessons Learned

Remember, to avoid these types of accidents don’t follow too close. Try to maintain some type a headcount on each vehicle to help your insurance company understand how many potential claims they may have. Maintain records that are pertinent to the investigation and cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation.

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