Dallas Truck Accident Investigation

semi truck accident

Our Dallas truck accident attorneys urge anyone who has been involved in a crash with a tractor-trailer to contact us right away. The reason: The sooner we can investigate the crash, the better chance we will have of securing full and fair compensation for you.

As an example, Tate Law Offices recovered $3.7 million for clients who were injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler. We believe our ability to gain access to the crash scene and witnesses played a pivotal role in reaching that outcome. We were able to uncover and document evidence that proves liability, otherwise, would have been lost.

To help you to get a clear picture of why it is so important to get to work on a truck accident case as soon as possible after a crash, it may help you to know more about what goes into a truck accident investigation. Key elements include:

Accident Scene Evidence

As we stated above, the crash scene itself contains crucial evidence. This is why insurance companies often send adjusters and experts to the scene within hours after a truck accident is reported to them. Your legal team needs to get there, too.

At the scene, you can get photographs of the vehicles, tire marks and road conditions. Much of this evidence will be removed not long after a crash. For instance, vehicles will be moved or towed, and debris will be cleared. So, getting there at the right time is essential.

Eyewitness Statements

In some cases, your legal team may arrive at the crash scene on time to speak with witnesses and collect their contact information before they leave. If not, however, your team should get witnesses statements as soon as possible.

Witnesses can provide important information. They can describe what they saw, heard and even smelled. However, the longer you wait to speak with them, the fewer details they will remember.

Witness information can help with evaluating a case’s merits. Later on, witnesses can give sworn written statements (called affidavits) or oral statements (called depositions).

Inspection of All Vehicles Involved

A full inspection of the vehicles should also take place quickly after a truck accident. This inspection will reveal the point of impact and many other key details.

Photos should be taken from all four sides of the vehicle exteriors.

From a plaintiff’s perspective, it is also crucial to get photos of the interior of the truck involved in the wreck. The cab of the truck may contain beer cans or other alcohol containers, illegal or prescription drugs or items that may have distracted the trucker such as a cell phone, iPad, GPS device, DVD player or TV.

Again, if you don’t move fast, all of that evidence may be removed.

Electronic Data Recorder (“Black Box”) Data

An electronic data recorder contains information that can be downloaded by an accident reconstruction expert. This data can show the truck’s speed right before the crash and indicate whether the trucker applied his or her brakes, along with other useful information.

However, if the truck is operated again, this black box data may be overwritten or deleted. So, an attempt to access this data must be made promptly after the accident.

Cell Phone Records of Dallas Truck Driver

A request for cell phone records can be sent to the trucker or trucking company. However, in most cases, these records must be obtained by serving a subpoena on the cell phone service provider.

Cell phone records can show whether the trucker was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the crash. It may also indicate whether the trucking company was aware of the trucker’s cell phone use. For instance, one of the numbers dialed could be a supervisor.

Dallas Truck Driver Toxicology Test Results

The truck driver will undergo drug and alcohol testing immediately after the crash. The tests usually are conducted by police officers who respond to the scene. These test results can be obtained early in a case.

A commercial motor vehicle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher exceeds the legal limit in Texas. However, any trace of alcohol or drugs can serve as evidence that a driver was too impaired to safely operate a massive 18-wheeler rig.

Logbooks and Other Company Records for Dallas Driver

This evidence – along with the next three types of evidence we will discuss – could end up being concealed by a trucking company. For this reason, an attorney should send a notice letter to the trucking company right after an investigation begins, warning the company that any destruction of evidence could be grounds for a “spoliation of evidence” claim.

Logbooks are important. They should indicate how long a trucker was on the road and whether he or she was in violation of state and federal regulations that limit truckers’ driving hours. The logbooks may also raise red flags and reveal attempts to falsify a driver’s hours.

Other important records concern the inspection, maintenance and repair history of the truck involved in the crash.

Cargo Records

Records that indicate when cargo was picked up and delivered – and what it was – can play a key role in an investigation as well. These records are called “bills of lading.”

For example, if a trucker picked up a shipment at one end of the state, and the crash took place at the opposite end, it may indicate that the driver had been on the road for far too long.

The Driver’s Background

The trucking company should have a personnel file for the truck driver. This file will show whether the company conducted a driving history and criminal background check before it hired the driver and whether the driver was physically and mentally fit to be behind the wheel.

The Trucking Company’s Rules Compliance History

There is not much of a risk that this evidence will be lost. It is obtained by contacting state and federal transportation officials. If a trucking company has a history of violating safety regulations – these are called “out-of-service violations” – it may reveal a pattern of negligent or reckless conduct.

Police Accident Reports

Finally, the police accident report should be obtained in the early stages of an investigation. The report can provide the law enforcement agency’s assessment of how the accident occurred and whether any criminal charges were filed. It can also provide insurance information and information about who owned the truck (and whether it was leased) and information about the cargo being transported.

Contact a Dallas Truck Accident Lawyer Today

So, as you can see, much goes into conducting a thorough investigation of a truck accident. As your lawyers, Tate Law Offices would need to begin this investigation as soon as possible in order to prepare the strongest case on your behalf.

If you would like to discuss your truck accident case with our firm, please feel free to contact us today. We can provide a free consultation. If we take on your case, we won’t charge you any legal fees or costs – including the costs of an investigation – unless we obtain a financial recovery for you.

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Featured FAQ

How do I get the most money for my case?

Evidence is essential in order to get top dollar for an injury case. This means there must be proof of who was at fault for the accident and that the accident caused your injuries. Police reports and witness statements go a long way to proving fault while detailed medical records from qualified doctors (many times orthopedics or neurologists) are used to show the cause and extent of the injuries. We work to build a solid case in order to seek maximum compensation for our clients’ injuries.

Is there a benefit to being represented by a lawyer?

Most of the time in an accident injury situation, an insurance company will be your opponent. Insurance companies are very skilled at denying or minimizing injury claims – that’s how they make money. Insurance adjusters regularly deny claims that should be paid, or they offer only a small percent of the fair value of a claim. Our goal is the opposite. We develop a settlement package presenting our client’s case that often can result in our client receiving 10 to 20 times more compensation than what the insurance adjusters might offer for their injury claim. In such case, even after legal fees, our clients can net more money in their pocket. Even better, we work on a completely contingent basis, so there are no legal fees unless we are successful in collecting compensation for our clients.

Should I talk to the insurance company?

Do not talk to anyone at the insurance company. This includes their insurance adjusters and defense lawyers. Insurance companies frequently record phone conversations during which they ask leading questions designed to produce testimony that they can use to deny your case. If we are your lawyers, we will do the talking for you so you do not fall into the insurance company traps that are designed to decrease the value of your claim.

How do I pay my medical bills?

Medical bills can be paid through various manners such as health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Personal Injury Protection insurance funds, deferred billing, and letters of protection. Depending on all of the facts surrounding your case and the insurance companies involved, we produce a strategy that we believe will best benefit our clients. Also, even if our clients do not have access to health insurance, we can assist them with getting medical care that is paid at the end of the case – which means no upfront medical bills.

How do I collect my lost income?

Even if an injured person is not able to work after an accident, insurance company tactics are to disagree and assert that the person could work so the insurance companies can deny the claim for lost income. It is important to have a qualified doctor’s medical documentation that proves the inability to work for a certain period of time due to an injury. We work with our clients’ doctors and employers to prove the medical reason for not working and the calculation of lost earnings. This frequently results in a fight with the insurance company, but we believe that with solid evidence we are ultimately able to win the fight and collect our clients’ lost income.