Risky Business: Some but not all
By Ashleigh Petersen Mary Ann Gormly, CERP
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Risky Business: Some but not all

Photos used to disprove damage claim

A man and his family were on vacation a state away from their home. They were camping and spending time together as a family while seeing the sites along the way. They took side roads whenever they could to better view the often-unseen parts of the U.S. and landmarks off the beaten path.

A large rental store truck loaded with an excavator was in front of them on one leg of their journey. The road wound through beautiful countryside lined with large pine trees as far as they could see. They enjoyed the view and decided they would stop at the next local diner they came across and eat lunch. That also would allow the large truck to move a little farther down the roadway ahead of them.

A couple of miles later, the truck in front of them struck a bridge with the excavator. As the arm of the machine hit the overpass, a hydraulic line broke and sprayed fluid all over the front of their van and rocks and debris rained down around them. The man slowed to a stop as soon as the fluid covered his windshield. At the same time, his windshield cracked.

The man got out of his car after the debris stopped falling and went to talk to the truck driver. He wanted to be sure the driver was OK. The truck driver also got out of his truck and was headed back to make sure the people behind him were OK. The two men called the police and filed a report. Everyone in both vehicles were fine. The van had quite a bit of debris on the hood and windshield, and the excavator was damaged as well. A rather large chunk was missing from the side of the bridge. It appeared this was not the first time the bridge had been struck.

The drivers of both vehicles exchanged information and the man and his family went on their way. They found a place nearby that was able to replace their windshield while they ate lunch so they could continue their vacation. The rest of the damage was cosmetic. The truck driver took pictures of the excavator, the man’s van and the bridge, and he gave them to his manager when he returned to the office. He also provided a copy of the information exchanged and the police report number.

The family man called his insurance company and started a claim with them. Within a couple of weeks, that insurance company contacted the rental store’s insurance company to present the statement for damages they had paid to repair the man’s van. The itemized statement they provided contained far more damage than was caused by the accident. The claim adjuster reviewed the photos provided by the rental store’s driver and compared them with the statement of damages.

After much discussion, the two insurance companies agreed that the insurance company for the rental store would only cover damage caused by the debris falling from the bridge and the hydraulic fluid from the excavator. The remaining damage was not related and was not the responsibility of the rental store.

Remind your employees to take photos at an accident scene. They may be used later to validate or disprove damages that are your responsibility.

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the associate editor for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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