How Do Lawyers Investigate a Truck Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a Dallas truck accident, you need a lawyer with knowledge and experience to effectively investigate all factors that led to the wreck. In order to build a strong case for compensation, your investigation must be meticulous.
Windle Turley has helped truck accident victims get the justice and compensation they deserve for more than 40 years. He understands the devastating impact truck accidents can have on victims and their families, and he knows how to properly investigate these life-altering crashes.
Review of Trucking Company Records
Every trucking company is required to maintain a driver qualification file (DQF) on each of its drivers. These detailed files contain information that is critical for truck accident lawyers to analyze during their investigation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates that the following must be included in a DQF:
- Driving records, including a complete accident history of the driver
- The truck operator’s employment history
- Road test results
- Drug and alcohol testing results
- Documented service hours
- Training certificates
- Truck maintenance records
- Copies of licenses
- Records of annual reviews
- Medical certifications
- Job applications
- Personnel records
While this information is crucial to building your case, an experienced truck accident attorney will look beyond these records and investigate other factors. We will ensure the driver met all the required qualifications for operating a commercial vehicle. A qualified truck operator must:
- Have a valid commercial driver’s license
- Have a valid medical certificate
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Speak and read English
- Be in good health
- Have successfully completed a recognized driving test
- Be able to properly load and secure cargo
- Be able to safely operate a vehicle
Failure to meet any of these requirements may indicate negligence under the law, and mean that the driver and his or her employer can be held accountable. Trucking companies are extremely reluctant to hand over DQF files, especially when those files could help prove negligence or liability on the driver or company. The skilled Dallas truck accident attorney at the Turley Law Firm has experience obtaining copies of DQFs, even if it means forcing the release of a document with a subpoena.
The records of trucking companies can often expose their negligence. A trucking company may be negligent if it:
- Hires drivers without performing thorough background checks
- Improperly or insufficiently trains drivers or hires inexperienced drivers
- Keeps unqualified drivers on staff after flagrant mistakes such as unsafe driving or drug and alcohol abuse
All of these facts help determine whether the trucking company adequately investigated a driver’s background and driving record before the hire. Company records can also indicate when and if a driver completed a mandatory drug and alcohol test.
Examining the Truck After an Accident
A comprehensive examination of the truck’s mechanical condition should be included in every truck accident investigation. It’s also important to analyze evidence and data that show exactly how the crash unfolded. Truck accident lawyers work closely with mechanical engineers, vehicle inspectors and accident reconstruction experts to help attain all the crucial facts for building a successful case.
Information contained on the truck’s electronic on-board recorder (EOBR) can be pivotal in proving your case. Also known as the truck’s “black box”, on-board recorders track and store details before, during and after an accident, such as:
- Velocity changes
- Changes in RPMs
- Changes in gear shifts
- Sudden braking
- The truck’s speed when the brakes were applied
Data obtained from a truck’s black box can help reinforce the findings of accident reconstruction experts when determining the truck’s speed and time-distance relationship between the truck and other vehicles involved in the wreck.
Investigating the Scene of a Truck Accident
It is essential that an accident investigator arrives to the scene of an accident quickly, and can immediately identify the appropriate witnesses to interview. Key witnesses include the truck driver, law enforcement or safety officers and other witnesses such as bystanders or other drivers and passengers.
Eyewitnesses provide critical information when developing a case against a truck driver or trucking company because unlike drivers or insurance companies, witnesses have no stake in the outcome of the investigation. They can describe road and surface conditions, traffic lights or sign positions, visibility, lighting and weather conditions. They can say where the crash occurred and who they believe caused the wreck. Eyewitnesses can also describe whether the driver appeared fatigued or intoxicated.
Once key witnesses have been interviewed, accident investigators comb the scene for evidence. There are many key pieces of evidence we look for, including:
- Gouge marks on the vehicle
- Skid marks on the road
- Oil, gas or fluid stains
- Debris from the wreck
Multiple photographs are taken to show the impact from specific angles.
Determining Who’s at Fault in a Truck Accident
Truck accidents are extremely complex, because there are many individuals who could be at fault beside, or in addition to, the driver. Considerations include:
- How the driver was hired and trained
- The hours the driver was working
- The condition of the truck being driven
- The manner in which the cargo was loaded and secured
Parties that can be held liable beside the driver include:
- The owner of the truck and/or the trailer
- The person or company that leased the truck
- The person or company that loaded the truck’s cargo
- The manufacturer of the vehicle, tires or other parts
Trucking companies never want to admit liability. It is essential that you have the best truck accident lawyers on your side who have the skill, experience and proven track record needed to help you win the settlement you deserve. It is also important for you to act quickly and contact a qualified truck accident attorney as soon as possible to begin building your case.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck crash, our Dallas truck accident lawyer can provide the expertise and compassion you need. Contact the Turley Law Firm today by completing the form on this page or by calling (214) 691-4025 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys represent clients in Texas and throughout the country.