THE ISSUE: What you write in your records can end up as key evidence against your driver…and your company.
Make sure EVERYONE in your operation is aware. Not just post-accident, but recruiters, trainers, and dispatchers. You can use this 3 MIN VIDEO. VIDEO
Make sure that they know that what they say in that angry message to the driver can end up on a PowerPoint in front of a jury…and they could be dragged into Court to own it. Like the dispatcher in the VIDEO
In today’s world in which emails and texts are fired off at will, it is easy for folks to fall into the pitfall of doing the same in communications to or records of drivers. But this could cause critical harm in a lawsuit.
Don’t hurt yourself with careless, flippant, or angry writing.
Fact: Almost every lawsuit against a trucking company includes claims of negligent hiring, training, and supervision.
Fact: Many lawsuits include claims for punitive damages based on these claims.
Fact: One of the primary detonators of a nuclear verdict is jury anger based on company conduct. Check out the video at Detonators
Fact: EVERY lawsuit will involve discovery of your documents–post-accident as well as hiring, training, and supervision…and often more, including those messages to the drivers.
Fact: Plaintiff will mine your files, from hiring to messages to post-accident, for the morsels that they will use to fuel juror anger.
So you have to assume that what you write is going to be produced to plaintiff–post-accident as well as during hiring, training, and supervision. Those texts and messages to the driver? Possibly, those too.
There is an old saying not to write anything you wouldn’t want to be put on the front page of the newspaper. Your version is to write and document as if you are going have it put on a video screen to the jury.
Don’t be glib. Don’t be funny. Don’t be flippant. Don’t fire something off in the heat of the moment. Don’t be accusatory. Don’t use words like “negligent”, “careless”, or any words ending in “head” or “hole”.
This isn’t to say you can’t be critical or corrective of a driver’s actions or habits. Just keep the tone appropriate. Stick with facts. Be constructive.