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What is a DOT Recordable Accident?

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What is a DOT recordable accident?

The Department of Transportation (DOT), through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), provides the minimum level of safe conduct by trucking companies and truck drivers. Understanding these safety rules is key to success in truck accident litigation.

The DOT has specific criteria for when a truck accident must be reported. Generally, the more serious the injury, the more likely it is to be reported. Experienced truck accident attorneys will investigate motor carriers’ reportable accident history, seeking admissible evidence against the trucking company and a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

What Constitutes a DOT Recordable Accident?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines a DOT recordable accident under 49 CFR Part 390.5. An accident is considered DOT recordable if it meets any of the following criteria:

  1. Fatality

Any crash involving a commercial motor vehicle that results in a fatality is automatically considered recordable.

  • Injury Requiring Medical Attention

If the accident results in an injury that necessitates immediate medical treatment away from the scene, it falls under the DOT recordable category.

  • Disabling Damage to Vehicles

An accident that causes disabling damage to one or more vehicles, requiring them to be towed from the scene, is also recordable.

Detailed Breakdown of Criteria


When a commercial vehicle accident results in a fatality, it is a severe event that mandates thorough investigation and reporting. The primary goal is understanding the cause and implementing measures to prevent future occurrences. This criterion includes any death occurring within 30 days of the accident.

Injury Requiring Medical Attention

Injuries necessitating immediate medical attention are another critical criterion for DOT-recordable accidents. Injuries include:

– Hospital admissions

– Emergency medical treatment

– Any treatment administered away from the accident scene

The focus here is on the severity of injuries and the immediate need for professional medical care, highlighting the seriousness of the incident.

Disabling Damage to Vehicles

Disabling damage is significant damage preventing the vehicle from being driven from the accident scene. Property damage includes:

– Severe structural damage

– Damage to essential systems like steering, brakes, or transmission

– Any damage that impairs the vehicle’s ability to operate safely

Vehicles involved in such accidents must be towed, which triggers the recordable status.

Reporting and Record-Keeping Requirements

Compliance with DOT regulations requires accurate and timely reporting of recordable accidents. Key steps include:

– Accident Register

Maintain an up-to-date accident register with details of each DOT recordable accident.

– Accident Reporting

Submit accident reports detailing the circumstances and outcomes to the FMCSA.

– Record Retention

Retain records for at least three years, ensuring they are readily available for inspection.

Impact of DOT Recordable Accidents on Safety Scores

DOT recordable accidents significantly impact a carrier’s safety scores, particularly the Safety Measurement System (SMS) scores. These scores influence:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Scores

Higher recordable accidents can negatively affect a carrier’s CSA scores, leading to increased scrutiny and potential interventions.

Insurance Premiums

Carriers with higher rates of recordable accidents often face elevated insurance premiums due to perceived increased risk.

Operational Reviews

Persistent recordable accidents may trigger comprehensive operational reviews by regulatory bodies.

Safety Procedures of Trucking Companies

Mitigating the occurrence of DOT-recordable accidents involves implementing robust safety protocols and continuous driver education. Necessary strategies include:

Regular Training

Ensuring drivers are well-versed in safety protocols and defensive driving techniques.

Vehicle Maintenance

Regular and thorough vehicle inspections and maintenance are required to prevent mechanical failures.

Safety Culture

Promoting a company-wide culture through training where every employee understands their role in accident prevention.

Safety Records and Your Truck Accident Injury Case

Personal injury victims in Houston, Texas, may be able to use DOT truck accident records to support a claim that the trucking company has a history of unsafe practices.

However, in Texas, a new law may require the plaintiff to prove that the truck driver caused the accident before allowing evidence against the motor carrier for safety violations. The best Houston truck accident lawyers Can help you prove a strong case and get the compensation you deserve.

Baumgartner Law Firm

6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069

(281) 587-1111