Evidence preservation seems to be the number one discussed topic in terms of defending trucking companies for liability claims. For serious accidents, it is common to dispatch defense attorneys and experts to the scene of the accident to preserve evidence necessary to contest liability when appropriate. What is less discussed is that the same data can be invaluable for investigating and defending workers’ compensation claims.
A rapidly increasing number of fleets are utilizing onboard event recorders with both outward and inward facing cameras. Electronic driver logs, with some exceptions, should be mandatory as of December 18 this year. With cargo security becoming more and more of an issue, most places where trucks load and unload have cameras. All of this information can be invaluable for putting together the missing pieces to defend a suspicious workers’ compensation claim.
While defenses are state-specific, the data and video footage can enable risk managers and claims handlers to effectively mitigate or eliminate workers’ compensation risk altogether for certain types of claims. If the data addresses the initial concerns, then there could be large savings on the costs of litigation. The key is to first have an understanding of what is available and how that information can be used to effectively investigate claims.
It is recommended that the claims team be made aware of what technology is available and the timeline necessary for preserving that information from the outset of the relationship. For dedicated routes, consult with the locations to determine the location and availability of security footage. If there is a partnership for a specific fuel provider, confirm the process for obtaining security footage should an accident occur on their premises. Determine what you can and cannot see from your event recorders. Does the view allow you see the drivers getting in and out of the truck? If you are partnering with a company to perform the initial screening of your event recorders, determine how long the data remains available should an event not warrant driver coaching.
Once the team is on the same page about what information is available, they should work together to decide how and when to use it. As with all technology, it cannot provide a return unless it is properly utilized. Combining this technology with 101 investigation tools such as interviewing witnesses and recorded statements will undoubtedly provide a return on the investment.