Adjuster X

Wild Kingdom

By: | November 3, 2014 • 3 min read

This column is based on the experiences of a group of long-time claims adjusters. The situations they describe are real, but the names and key details are kept confidential. Michelle Kerr is the editor of this column and can be reached at [email protected]

One of our clients had a delivery driver involved in a car crash. I happened to be in the area so I was dispatched to the scene. I spoke with an officer after the ambulance left with the driver. The officer checked his notes: “One vehicle accident. Good weather conditions. No skid marks indicating a high rate of speed. Driver says he simply lost control of the van and ran off the road.”

I inspected the van, which had crashed into a copse of trees. The windshield was broken, the front bumper was dented, the headlights were broken, and the grill was damaged.

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I checked the back. The storage area of the van was open to the front seats. It was scattered with boxes that looked more bashed up than I would have expected. “What do you make of that?” I asked the officer.

He shrugged. “Got jostled in the crash?”

The boxes were all fairly light. Some of them looked punctured, but I didn’t spot any sharp objects in the back of the van. I noticed the interior paint in the van was scratched up, too. Odd.

Then I spotted a small smear of blood near the back door of the van. Something really wasn’t adding up here.

At the ER, I introduced myself to the injured driver, Kyle Warner, as a nurse checked his wound, which was on the back of his head, behind the right ear.

After a few preliminary questions, I said: “So, Kyle, what exactly caused the accident to the best of your recollection?”

Warner looked down at the floor and said, “I guess I just lost control of the van.”

“That’s a bit strange,” I replied. “It was a straight road. No lights, stop signs, or construction crews around.” Warner glanced at me sideways. “It’s even more baffling how you sustained a laceration on the back right side of your head.”

He looked uncomfortable. “Maybe a box hit me. I don’t know.”

Then I spotted a small smear of blood near the back door of the van. Something really wasn’t adding up here.

I looked intensely at him. “I think you do, Kyle. What did you have that was alive in the back of that van?”

Warner stammered, “I … I don’t know what you mean.”

“C’mon, what was it?” I pressed. “It was something large. Not a dog. It was wounded. My best guess is a white-tailed deer. The hooves would explain the punctured boxes and the scratched paint, not to mention your head wound.”

Warner was staring at me with his mouth open. “You may as well tell me,” I said. “I can easily get a blood sample from the van.”

“OK,” he said finally, letting out a sigh. “I came across a doe on the side of the road that must’ve been hit by a car. I thought it was dead, so I put it in the van so a friend of mine could butcher it for venison.

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“Only it wasn’t dead — it was just stunned. Five or six miles later, it came to and went berserk in the back of the van. Before I could pull over, it hit me in the head with a hoof and knocked me half senseless. That’s when I ran the van off the road. I was able to get out and get around to the back of the van and let the deer out before the police arrived.”

I indicated that picking up a stunned deer was certainly not something in the course and scope of employment of his job as a driver, and that this non-sanctioned action led directly to his injury.

“What’s going to happen with my job?” Warner asked me.

“That’s up to your employer, Kyle,” I replied. “but I wouldn’t be counting on receiving a commendation.”

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]