What’s Involved in a Truck Accident Investigation?
It may come as no surprise; trucking accidents result in some of the most catastrophic injuries of any road accident. In fact, Texas tends to see more fatal commercial truck accidents every year than any other state. Victims of truck accidents are often subject to serious injuries, costly medical bills, damage to their physical property, and a lengthy recovery period that accompanies a great deal of pain and suffering.
If you or someone you love was involved in a truck accident, a trusted lawyer can help you achieve the compensation you deserve. However, to do that, they will need to find sufficient evidence that proves the other party liable — whether that comes down to the truck driver, the trucking company as a whole, or even a truck product manufacturer.
As some of the top truck accident lawyers serving Sugar Land, TX, and other communities in the Lone Star State, Reed & Terry Law Firm values empowering clients every step of the way. And when it comes to a truck accident case, knowing more about what’s involved in a truck accident investigation illustrates just how important it is to partner up with the right representation.
Who Investigates Truck Accidents?
Texas truck accidents may be investigated by many different parties, including local law enforcement or state authorities, federal officials, insurance company adjusters, and attorneys.
The truck accident investigation begins at the scene of the crash, generally including police officers. Typically, the truck driver will notify the company that owns the truck and an investigatory team will come out to analyze the scene and collect evidence. Keep in mind that all parties involved will have varying reasons and methods for determining what led to an accident.
Key Steps in a Truck Accident Investigation
Here are some of the most important elements trucking accident attorneys take into consideration when building your case.
Collecting evidence from the scene: Investigating the scene of the accident is crucial in finding out what caused the collision. Attorneys could look at physical evidence — like tire treads on the road — and consider witness testimony when building a victim’s case. Photographs and videos of the site and surrounding debris or damage are reviewed as well.
Conducting a truck examination: Beyond assessing physical damage the motor vehicle has sustained as a result of a collision, examining the truck thoroughly determines if there’s defective parts or faulty equipment, if a system or component failed, or if the vehicle’s mechanical condition was not up to standard in the first place.
Reviewing truck driver’s qualification file: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires every trucking company to have a driver qualification file, or DFQ, on all their drivers. This information is crucial to lawyers during a truck accident investigation. A DFQ must include:
- Driver/truck accident history
- Driver employment history
- Drug and alcohol test results
- Training certificates
During a truck accident investigation, a lawyer will investigate numerous factors — including everything from how much time the driver was on the road since their last break to vehicle information recorded by the truck’s “black box.”
Getting information from the truck’s black box: The truck involved in the accident most likely had an event data recorder (EDR) or “black box” that recorded vital information that helps tell the story of what the driver was doing at the exact time of the crash as well as the moments leading up to it. The black box records vehicle speed, brake usage, vehicle maintenance, and driver actions over a certain period of time.
How an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
A large trucking company may seem like it has abundant resources and advantages that dwarf your case’s chance of success; however, partnering up with the right truck accident lawyer following the accident can make a world of difference in building a strong claim.
Knowledge of Trucking Violations
An experienced lawyer will know just what to look for when it comes to uncovering any violations made by the truck driver themselves or exposing the trucking company for not adhering to regulatory standards (negligent supervision or hiring processes, unsafe delivery requirements, etc.). Since time is of the essence and pertinent information that could help your case can become lost — or “lost” — it pays to have an attorney who will act swiftly and strategically.
Among the most important steps your attorney can take is sending the trucking company in question a spoliation letter, or a notice that requests the preservation of relevant evidence. In essence, when the company is notified that a victim is seeking evidence for their claim, they’re required to safeguard it.
Your lawyer can obtain evidence and results of the trucking company’s investigation through the discovery process, leveraging this information to cross-examine investigators, officers, or even the driver via depositions.
Reconstructing the Accident
A lawyer can work with a network of inspectors, engineers, and other experts to effectively reconstruct the circumstances of the accident, which can involve conducting a complete test of a truck’s air brake system or determining the time-distance relationship between the truck and another vehicle at the moment of the crash.
Involved in a Truck Accident? Reed & Terry Law Firm Can Investigate on Your Behalf
Many trucking companies and their insurance providers move forward with their own investigation after an accident. By partnering up with a trusted legal team, you can form a solid defense against their conclusions and uncover even more about the trucking company’s history of accidents at large, hiring practices, maintenance protocol, and beyond.
If you or someone close to you wants to file a truck accident lawsuit, our firm is here to fight for you. We have what it takes to leave no stone unturned as we pursue the compensation you deserve. With us, you can rest assured that we keep the liable party — or parties — accountable for their actions.
About Jackson R. Reed
Attorney Jackson R. Reed has served clients since 1994. He is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA), the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA), the Houston Trial Lawyers Association (HTLA), and the State Bar of Texas.