Steven Cesare, Ph.D.


A business owner from North Carolina called me the other day to talk about an issue that scares the hell out of all of us. A vehicle accident. Those words are an immediate alarm, triggering maximum adrenaline to the organizational system. “What happened?” “Was anyone injured?” “Who was driving our vehicle?” “How bad was it?” “Whose fault, was it?” “Did it involve another vehicle, a structure (e.g., mailbox, pole, building) or a pedestrian (e.g., cross walk, bicycle)?” “Did the police show up?” “Did the other vehicle driver have insurance?” “What did our employees say to anyone?” “When did the Manager show up on site?” “Did we admit responsibility for the accident?” “Did we take adequate pictures of the event?”

We all have been there. Because we have been there, we never want to go there, again.

When asked to inform me of the details of the event, the business owner told me that a three-person work crew was on their way to a Maintenance job as part of their standard Thursday morning route.

But wait. There’s more…

Rather than taking a Company vehicle to the Maintenance job, it was decided that the driver would take the crew to the job site, using her personal vehicle. While not illegal, that process is highly irregular leading to several concerns about vehicle quality, insurance coverage, and cost considerations.

But wait. There’s more…

The actual accident led the other involved vehicle to be found upside down on the street. The Company employees reported only minor bruises, pains, and sore muscles. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to the local Emergency Room for diagnostic observation.

But wait. There’s more…

When I asked the business owner of the company driver’s interaction with the State Trooper, the owner informed me that while the driver had car insurance, she did not have a valid driver’s license. For those following at home, we just went from an accident to a violation of state law. I will not divulge the answer to my follow-up question of the business owner: “Did you know she did not have a valid driver’s license?”

I apologize for my amnesia. It comes and goes. What did I just say? I just forgot, again. Sorry.

But wait. There’s more…

I then asked the owner if there was any other relevant information about the driver that may complicate this vehicle incident investigation. The owner told me that the driver did not have an I-9 Form on file and as such was likely here illegally. For those following at home, we just went from an accident and violation of state law, to a violation of federal law. Per my aforementioned amnesia, I will not divulge the answer to my follow-up question of the business owner: “Did you know she did not have an I-9 Form on file?”

Aside from the details, lax judgment, and incomplete protocol, here are some take-aways for us:

  • Verify every company employee has an accurate I-9 Form on file.
  • Verify every company driver has been vetted by the vehicle insurance provider and is rightfully found on the company’s Approved Driver’s List.
  • Maintain close partnerships with your vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation providers.
  • Verify the liability coverage to determine whose insurance (e.g., company or driver) is accountable if an employee gets in a vehicle accident using a personal vehicle while on company work time.
  • Keep a Vehicle Accident Protocol outlining specific actions (e.g., taking notes, responding to law enforcement, taking pictures, not admitting fault, compiling the company’s Vehicle Accident Report, requesting a copy of the official Police Report) in every company vehicle.

Now that you know what happened here, you now know why we never want to be here again.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.