Documenting a truck accident is key to building a strong personal injury lawsuit against a company or driver in Texas. The facts you or your lawyer gather about the collision could point to the correct defendant, or at-fault party. Evidence obtained, including important records, may provide proof against a negligent driver or truck company. Work with an attorney for assistance obtaining the right facts, evidence and records after a serious truck accident. Use this checklist to make sure you keep all the right records in the aftermath of a crash.
Accident and Police Reports
Almost all truck accidents are serious enough to require police reporting in Texas. The reporting rules state that those involved in a crash must call 911 if it causes injuries, fatalities or property damage of more than $1,000. If you called 911 from the scene of your accident, the responding police officer will have created an official record of the wreck. Obtain a copy of your police report by calling the station in the county where the accident occurred. Most police officers have to submit these reports within 24 hours after the collision.
The police will submit an accident report to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) if you called 911 from the scene. Otherwise, you may need to submit this report yourself within 10 days of the accident. Keep a copy of the report you give to the TxDOT for your records. You can contact the TxDOT for a copy of the police report and/or crash report later. Victims may access, download and print most accident reports online in Texas.
It is important to document your medical care and treatment plans for any injuries related to your truck accident. Medical records can serve as critical proof of your injuries during insurance company settlements or a personal injury trial. Medical records can establish the existence and severity of your injuries. Ask your doctor for copies of all x-rays, scans, test and lab results, treatment plans, and other medical records during your truck accident claim. If you have an injury that is difficult to document on paper, such as a traumatic brain injury, your lawyer may need to hire a medical expert to help prove your damages instead.
Lost Wage Records
Keep track of how much work you had to miss because of your truck accident or related injuries. You may have lost hundreds or thousands of dollars in wages because of a temporary disability. You may never be able to return to work due to severe or permanently disabling injuries. In these circumstances, collect your employment records to prove how much you had been making before the accident. If you have returned to work in a limited capacity, keep paystubs to show the difference between what you used to make and what you make now. If you cannot return to work at all, your medical records should establish total disability.
Truck and Driver Records
One unique type of record to obtain after a truck accident is information about the truck. Organizations such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require truck companies to document their operations through electronic logging devices, maintenance records, employment records and black boxes.
These systems gather data related to the truck, the company and the truck driver for future use. Most continue collecting information even during crashes. Your lawyer can contact the courts and issue an evidence preservation request to the truck company after a collision. The truck company will then have to retain all records relating to the accident for your lawyer to peruse.
Company records may show signs of negligence such as missed truck inspections, low-quality repairs, ignored safety complaints, unsafe drivers, dangerous company protocols, lack of driver training or unsafe driver behaviors such as speeding or exceeding hours-of-service regulations. Your lawyer may also be able to access the truck driver’s cellphone records if you suspect distracted driving caused your accident. Hiring a truck accident attorney can make gathering all the right records easy.