Page 11 - WV811 2023 issue 1
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good listener. One of the secrets to getting the most out of an interview is not interrupting or rushing to the next question. The interview is not for the ten o’clock news, don’t act as if this is breaking news. Just learn the facts and their perspective. Part of collecting the facts is certainly learning how to take good photographs and draw legible sketches. Remember if they do not tell the story of a damage to a person who isn’t there, will never be there and who doesn’t understand your lingo, you may be liable even though you’ve done everything right.
5. Determine the cause. It is universally recognized that for every accident or damage there is a root cause, a direct cause and one or more contributing factors associated with the event. What conditions existed that may have made the damage more likely to occur? And what one thing, if corrected, would have prevented the damage? Remember, this process is not about who is liable for the costs associated with the damage, but rather an answer to the question, “what led directly to the line getting damaged?” Liability will become apparent following the factual investigation.
6. Document... The damage investigation report becomes your first line of defense for your position. Documenting is important for a variety of reasons, but certainly one of them
is that the invoice or court date may be a year or more after the fact and the damage may be only a distant memory. The party with the best documentation will most always have the advantage. Be truthful and present the facts. You do not need to be concerned with using proper legal terms to describe what your investigation discovered. Just record the facts in the best way you can and you will always be able to confidently defend your report.
As a side note, West Virginia’s Damage Prevention Board’s (WVDPB) complaint form or as some refer to it the Alleged Violation Report (AVR) form is loosely based on good damage investigation techniques. When someone submits the complaint (AVR), they identify who they are, the alleged violator, the alleged violation, the location, date and time of the alleged violation and are asked to submit documents to verify their complaint. All of these are fact-based requests. The Damage Prevention Board isn’t asking you to point a finger at anybody who might be doing something wrong, they simply want to know the facts.
One interesting fact is that when excavators call 811 before they dig, statistics prove that damages occur less than 1% of the time. With all the perceived flaws in our industry, this is significant information. What else can you think of that has such an impact at your job site today?
We must reduce damages in West Virginia. The WVDPB believes that most damages occur because the dig law is ignored. Failure to call before digging or not locating in a timely fashion routinely leads to unnecessary damages.
West Virginia’s Damage Prevention Board is asking for your help in identifying stakeholders who routinely violate our
dig law. Mostly, these people are good people who have developed some bad habits. It is not ok to dig without calling West Virginia 811 first. It is not ok to show up late to locate underground utilities.
Let’s work together to keep West Virginia a safer place to live and work.
If not now, when? If not us, who?
  2023, Issue 1
West Virginia 811 • 9

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