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Truck Accident Investigation


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Truck accidents are a common occurrence on roads and highways in Texas, often resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities. When a truck accident occurs, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause and hold the negligent parties accountable for damages. There are many causes of trucking accidents, including driver error.

Why is Truck Accident Investigation Important?

Truck accidents can have devastating consequences for the individuals involved, the trucking company, and other parties. A thorough investigation can help determine the cause of the accident and identify any contributing factors, such as driver error, vehicle malfunction, or road conditions.

By identifying the cause of the crash, truck accident lawyers in Texas can use the facts to file a lawsuit and prove the liability of the driver and trucking company.

Our award-winning Houston truck accident lawyers in Harris County, TX, have been helping injured Texans win maximum compensation for over three decades. The sooner you hire our truck accident attorney so we can investigate your accident, the better our chances of maximizing your compensation.

Truck accident investigation

Gathering Evidence

The first step in any truck accident investigation is to gather evidence. Getting evidence includes collecting information from the accident scene, such as photographs, witness statements, and police reports. It is important to document the vehicle’s condition, damage sustained, and road hazards that may have contributed to the accident.

In addition to physical evidence, gathering electronic data from the truck, such as the vehicle’s black box or electronic logging device, is also important. This data can provide valuable insights into the truck’s speed, braking, and other important factors leading to the accident.

Analyzing the Evidence

Once all the evidence has been collected, it is important to analyze it to determine the cause of the accident. Analysis may involve reconstructing the accident using physical evidence and electronic data. It is also important to review the driver’s logbook and other relevant documents to determine any violations or negligence by the driver or the trucking company.

Identifying Contributing Factors

In addition to determining the immediate cause of the accident, it is also important to identify any contributing factors. Factors may include driver fatigue, vehicle maintenance issues, or inadequate training. These truck crash causation factors can prove negligence in a truck accident lawsuit for damages.

Read More: Determining Liability of Multiple Parties in a Truck Accident

Key Factors to Consider in a Truck Accident Investigation in Texas

Driver Error

Driver error is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. Driver errors can include speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol. Reviewing the driver’s logbook and electronic data is important to determine if the driver followed all safety regulations and if any violations contributed to the accident.

Vehicle Maintenance

Trucks are complex vehicles that require regular maintenance to ensure they are safe to operate on the roads. If a truck is not properly maintained, it can lead to mechanical failures that cause accidents. It is important to review the truck’s maintenance records and thoroughly inspect the vehicle to determine if any maintenance issues may have contributed to the accident.

Road Conditions

Poor road conditions like potholes, construction zones, or inclement weather can also contribute to truck accidents. It is important to review the road conditions during the accident and determine if any hazards may have played a role in the accident.

Driver Training and Experience

Truck drivers must undergo extensive training and have a certain level of experience before operating a commercial vehicle. The motor carrier must review the driver’s training and experience to determine if they were properly qualified to operate the truck at the time of the accident.

Company Policies and Procedures

Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring their drivers follow all safety regulations and have proper training and experience. It is important to review the company’s policies and procedures to determine if any violations or negligence on the company’s part may have contributed to the accident.

Real-World Examples of Truck Accident Investigations in Texas

The trucking accident attorneys at Baumgartner Law Firm investigated an 18-wheeler accident where the truck driver ran into the back of a farm tractor at highway speeds. The trucking company denied responsibility for the crash and blamed the farmer for not having flashers on and driving partly on the highway. 

After filing a lawsuit and issuing a subpoena for the driver’s cell phone records, we could show the driver was cheating on his log books and driving past the allowable hours-of-service. The case settled soon after for a substantial amount.

In another case, our expertise in truck accident investigation was tested when a truck driver blamed the victim for the accident. The police crash report did not conclude fault, given the conflicting stories of the trucker and our client. 

After a thorough investigation, which included downloading the event data recorder and seeking witness accounts, we proved the truck driver’s account of the accident was false. Shortly after the truck driver’s deposition, the case was settled for our full demand.

Recently, we helped a Houston family after a fatal truck accident and gathered vital evidence early after the accident happened. The information we recovered in our investigation helped us win a multi-million-dollar settlement for our clients. That settlement was the highest ever paid by the trucking company. Even then, the defense attorneys had a head start in that they were at the crash scene before the vehicles had even been moved.

Early investigation matters and can make a difference in a truck accident lawsuit. Get an experienced attorney for your trucking case.

Who Conducts Truck Accident Investigations?

Truck accident investigations are typically conducted by experts, including accident reconstruction specialists, trucking industry experts, and experienced personal injury lawyers. These individuals work together to gather evidence, analyze data, and determine the cause of the accident.

Police Crash Reports Don’t Always Tell the Whole Story

After a severe commercial vehicle crash, the local authorities will investigate the accident. It is a mistake to assume that the authorities will do all that is necessary to protect your rights and interests if you or a loved one were injured in the accident.

A police report is not binding on an accident victim, and often, officers do not know all of the facts at the time of the report.

The Cause of the Collision May Vary From Officer’s Opinions

Our truck accident investigations include much more information than that covered in a crash report from a typical Houston car accident.

The officer’s opinions on the cause of the crash are only part of the story. Further, those opinions may not necessarily be admissible in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Just because the officer faults the truck driver for causing the crash does not mean liability will not be contested or a Texas jury will hear the opinions.

Additionally, the officers may not know critical evidence about the truck driver and trucking company during their investigation. Often, it is our investigation that uncovers serious rule violations. Those violations can prove a trucking company’s fault in a personal injury lawsuit. Rule violations can be the trucking company’s actions, the truck driver’s, or both.

There can be many causes of truck accidents. Often, there can be several factors that play a part in why a wreck occurred. For example, drivers may be fatigued because they are driving longer than permitted.

A serious and thorough investigation can reveal facts that otherwise will not come to life.

New Texas Law Makes Proving Fault Harder

Texas recently enacted laws that limit the use of a trucking company’s violations of safety regulations in a lawsuit for damages. See Chapter 72, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Remedies Code §§ 72.051-72.055

The new law requires the victim of a truck accident to prove causation before a jury can hear many of the violations of safety rules by the company.

Contact Baumgartner Law Firm for help with your truck accident claim.

The Importance of Preserving Vital Evidence

If your injuries are not severe and liability is clear, ensuring vital evidence is retained for use in your case might not be a big deal. But if you lost a family member or your injuries are severe, and medical expenses are in the tens or hundreds of thousands, you must take steps to ensure the critical evidence is obtained and not destroyed.

Hiring experienced truck accident attorney Greg Baumgartner is the best way to get the needed proof.

The statute of limitations in Texas requires speedy action, and the sooner you start the investigation, the quicker a lawsuit can get filed.

Read More: Why are Settlements Larger for Truck Crashes?

What Information Is Needed When Investigating a Truck Crash?

What information is needed when investigating a truck crash?

The list of critical evidence for your case depends a lot on how the crash happened and why. An investigation can uncover many facts that the investigating officers usually do not know when determining the cause of the truck accident.  However, the analysis should be tailored to the facts of your accident.

For instance, if the truck driver rear-ended you, facts like the condition of the brakes, the hours the driver was on duty, and the event data recorder would be significant. But things like the load being improperly attached may not be relevant. Likewise, if the truck driver never touched the brakes, it doesn’t matter if the brakes were bad.

Here is a list of evidence that can be obtained to help win a truck accident lawsuit:

  1. The Event Data Recorder (EDR) information.
  2. Inspection of the tractor-trailer for regulation violations
  3. Witness statements
  4. The cell phone records of the truck driver
  5. Background check on the driver
  6. Background check on the motor carrier
  7. Scene documentation
  8. Driver’s logbooks
  9. Load documents
  10. All documents from each investigating authority
  11. Recent shipping and delivery receipts
  12. Drivers Qualification File (DQF)
  13. Driver medical file (with blood tests)

What an experienced Houston 18-wheeler truck accident attorney wants to get will depend on the facts of your crash. The earlier you hire a top-rated truck accident lawyer, the better your odds of winning full damages in a truck accident lawsuit.

Read More: What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

Event Data Recorder or Black Boxes

Event data recorders (EDR) are called “black boxes.” The EDR is a computer that records information critical to proving fault in many collisions. The EDR will record:

  • Speed just before the crash
  • Braking activity
  • Hours of operation
  • Evasive maneuvers just before the impact

Getting the computer data after the crash and before the big rig is placed back in service is essential to document and prosecute many truck injury claims.

The most significant benefit of getting the EDR data is that the data contains many facts about what happened. The defense experts hired to say the accident was not the company’s fault will also have difficulty disregarding the EDR data.

The black box data should be prioritized in every severe injury or fatal truck accident case.

Why Inspect the Big Rig After an Accident?

An inspection of the rig should be part of the investigation of any serious injury accident. Trucking companies are required to keep their fleet in proper operating conditions to avoid accidents. The law requires specific actions when a big truck’s safety deficiencies are noted.

Investigation can reveal both violations of the law and conditions of the tractor or trailer that may have contributed to the cause of the crash. Typically, truck accident law firms use expert witnesses to examine tractor-trailers.

Common out-of-service violations can be discovered during an inspection of the big rig.

What is a Driver Qualification File (DQF)?

Trucking companies are called “Motor Carriers” for regulating truckers and their employers. Motor Carriers are required to register to get operating authority under federal and state laws. The law makes the trucking company process and retain certain records. One of the most detailed records required to be created deals with their truck drivers.

Those records are called the Driver Qualification File. Even if the driver is a one-person company, they must have a DQF on themselves. The file must contain facts about the driver and his fitness to be a professional semi-truck driver.

What is in a DQF?

There are eight categories of information required in a DQF.  Most deal with an employed driver’s background. The trucking company must have the DQF readily available to authorities checking a driver. The DQF intends to ensure the trucking company has researched and qualified the driver to the minimum level of safety required by law.

  • Application of employment. The application identifies the company and the driver. It outlines the type of operation, the experience of the driver, and how they will be used. The application must state the type of vehicle the applicant intends to drive. Both the driver and Motor Carrier must certify that the driver is legally qualified to drive. Here are the contents of a Driver Qualification File:
  • Motor vehicle record. The driving record for each state is that the driver held a CDL for the previous twelve months.
  • Three years of previous driving records. The trucking company must investigate and document the driving history for at least three years.
  • Company reviews of driving records. The driving record of each driver for the trucking company must be reviewed annually by the company. All violations of any regulation must be disclosed and recorded. Things related to safety, such as traffic tickets, must be part of the documentation.
  • Record of violations. Each driver must certify all traffic infractions for the past year.
  • A copy of the CDL.
  • Medical Examiners Certificate. A DOT physical exam has to be conducted by an authorized medical examiner. Certificates are generally twenty-four months but can be shorter if any medical conditions require monitoring for safe driving.

DQF is a starting point for a Houston truck accident attorney regarding safety practices and compliance with the law after a severe injury crash. Finding out if the trucking company was negligent takes an expert attorney.

Why are Witness Accounts so Valuable?

The number of cases where the story of the truck driver changes after a defense attorney gets involved is shocking. Most trucking companies have policies instructing drivers to call the office immediately after a crash. Some motor carriers even have accident cards indicating that the driver should never admit responsibility for the accident.

An independent witness is invaluable in determining what happened in the accident. The truck driver may change their story and try to protect himself from civil liability. At the same time, most factual accounts can indeed vary.  But there is a difference between varied perceptions and defensive testimony.

Texas juries tend to evaluate testimony based on credibility and motivation. An independent witness who does not know either party is usually believed. That is why the best attorneys handling truck accident cases always seek witnesses to the collision.

How Can Cell Phone Records Help Your Case?

If the truck driver was on the phone at the time of the collision, he may have violated the regulations regarding cell phone use. The truck driver will often deny cell phone use to authorities, and obtaining cell phone records can provide evidence of cell phone use.

Cell phone records can also document the truck driver’s location at various times. For instance, in a recent case we won, we discovered the truck driver had lied on his logbooks when we correlated his location with his cell phone. Cell phones used by truck drivers can be more than talking on the phone. It can be checking messages or even surfing the Internet while driving.

We have found blind spot truck accidents that occurred when the driver was looking at their phones and not their mirrors.

One of the things to do after a truck accident is to get your investigation started immediately.

The Houston Truck Accident Attorneys at Baumgartner Law Firm Also Handle

At Baumgartner Law Firm, our personal injury attorney in Houston, TX, helps clients throughout Texas maximize their damages to get the compensation they deserve. We have recovered millions of dollars and represented thousands of accident victims.

Since 1985, our firm has limited the practice to serious personal injury and wrongful death cases and produced exceptional results in the following areas:

Our founder attorney, Greg Baumgartner, has over 35 years of experience and has been peer-reviewed preeminent for decades.

Contact Baumgartner Law Firm in Houston for Help with an 18-wheeler Accident Near me

An investigation after a severe injury accident should be started as early as possible. The evidence developed can impact the timing and amount of a settlement.

When trucking companies or truck drivers are shown to have knowingly violated safety rules, Texas juries take notice.

Truck accidents can have serious consequences, making it important to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause and prevent similar accidents from happening in the future. By gathering and analyzing evidence, identifying contributing factors, and reviewing company policies and procedures, truck accident investigations can help improve road safety and protect the interests of all parties involved.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, it is important to seek legal representation to ensure your rights are protected, and you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact a truck accident lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm today to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options.

Baumgartner Law Firm has helped Texas families after severe truck accidents for over thirty-five years and has never lost a truck accident case. Let our next victory be yours.

Fill out a case consultation form or call us at (281) 587-1111.

No Charge For Accident Consultations!

Baumgartner Law Firm

6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069

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Elite Lawyer Award
Best Car Accident Lawyer in Houston Award
Preeminent Rated Personal Injury Lawyer
Top 100 Trial Lawyers
Top 100 Trial Lawyers
 Super Lawyers
Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers