In the official Texas Crash Report there is a section called Factors & Conditions. There are three subsections for officers to fill out, a) contributing factors, b) vehicle defects and c) environmental and roadway conditions.
The first two sections are the police officers opinions regarding what caused the accident. The environmental and roadway conditions are viewed as factual observations from a legal perspective.
Many people are not aware of the fact that the police officers opinion may or may not come into evidence in a personal injury trial.
Whether the officer’s opinion on the cause of the accident comes and depends upon the officer’s qualifications and also whether the investigating officer did the necessary work to satisfy the court that the opinions are trustworthy.
On the more serious cases involving wrongful death or very bad injuries, the likelihood of a formal accident reconstruction taking place are fairly decent. Generally, if a formal accident reconstruction takes place the officer handling the reconstruction is probably qualified to do that type of work.
Many insurance companies base their initial acceptance or denial of a claim based upon the crash report. It is the contributing factors and who the officer puts fall upon for causing the accident that control many insurance claims.
Of course there are other matters that can influence an insurance claim such as witness statements, statements from the actual insured and other evidence that may not appear in the crash report.
If you been involved in a very serious accident, a review of the factors and conditions section will quickly tell you the investigating officers conclusions regarding the causation of the accident.
Following the section of “factors and conditions” comes the narrative and diagram section, which supplements the factors and conditions and gives more detail into the officer’s opinion regarding the cause of the wreck.
Some of the more common causes of car accidents are as follows:
* Disregarded stop and go signal
* Disregard sign or light start
* Driver inattention
* Distraction in vehicle
* Failed to control speed
* Failed to drive in a single line
* Failed to yield right-of-way (multiple variables)
* Fatigued or asleep
* Faulty evasive action
* Under influence- alcohol
Vehicle defects can include defective conditions in the vehicles such as no headlights, no taillights, no trailer breaks and other conditions.
Finally, weather conditions can also play a part, such as, rainmaking the roadways slick, sleet or fog.
If you or loved one have been seriously injured in a car wreck or a truck crash what is recorded under the “factors and conditions” section of the crash report can be very important to an insurance claim or even a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
It is also important to understand that Texas maintains a comparative responsibility scheme that apportions fault between various parties to litigation. Generally, someone can be partially at fault and still recover damages as long as they are not over 50% responsible for causing an accident.
If you have questions about a crash report or whether or not you may be entitled to damages as a result of an automobile accident, call the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no obligation consultation- (281) 587-1111.