When you have a car accident, particularly if it involves a business vehicle or company driver, it is important that you report the accident to the police and file an appropriate report. This is not only important for insurance purposes, but also because failing to report an accident can qualify as criminal in most states. That is not a mistake that you want your business to make.
By filing an accident report, you will be able to start the process of recovering from the accident. Following the rules in the beginning will make the process of filing a commercial auto insurance claim later on, and can prevent you from facing any accusations of improper conduct, either from your insurer or the police.
Will the Authorities Find Out if You Have a Car Accident?
State laws on reporting car accidents differ. However, in general, if an accident results in injuries or property damage to someone other than a single driver (I.e. another driver, pedestrian, etc.) then the police must be contacted and a police report filed. A failure to do so could fall under the definition of fleeing the scene of an accident or a hit-and-run, which are serious criminal charges.
Suppose that one of your employee drivers is making a delivery of a company van, and when backing out of your loading bay they run into a steel post that marks the lot. Because this accident occurred on your lot, and involved only your company vehicle, then you might not have to file a police report. The only exceptions might be if your insurance company requires a report before they will file a claim.
However, if your employee driver backs into another employee’s personal car, then the accident officially involves another party. As a result, you will likely have to contact the police and file an accident report. The report will be used as written documentation to help the commercial auto insurance carrier determine where fault lies in the incident. The matter of fault will often be the determining factor in how your auto insurance will pay for your own commercial vehicle damage.
Why Fault Matters in Vehicle Accidents
If a commercial vehicle accident is your employee driver’s fault, then it is your business that must pay for the results. The liability insurance provided by your commercial auto insurance will pay for the bodily injuries or property damage that you caused other parties. Your plan’s physical damage insurance will pay for the damage to the company car. However, if the accident is someone else’s fault, then it is their auto liability insurance that will pay your company for its losses.
By having an accident report in place, you will be able to have the verifiable proof that you were or were not at-fault for an accident, along with documentation of what damage the accident actually caused. Therefore, there will be little room for interpretation that could lead to insurance challenges.