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How We Investigate Houston Commercial Truck Accidents

Regardless of the time of day, the highways of the Houston – Galveston – Beaumont area are packed with commercial trucks. This also means that accidents involving “big rigs” and personal cars and trucks will happen more frequently than in other, less-urbanized, areas of the state. As a law practice that represents the victims of commercial truck accidents, we know that the “official” accident report often does not accurately reflect the circumstances and/or causes of many truck accidents.

In today’s post, the Houston commercial truck accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm explains why the “official” police accident investigation frequently fails to present a complete account of all the factors that could have led to a truck accident. He will then present an overview of how our firm investigates such accidents on behalf of our clients.

Why We Investigate Commercial Trucking Accidents

Everyone is familiar with the old adage that “There are two sides to every story.” As a personal injury law firm in Houston, we say that “There are at least two sides to every story, and probably many more.” When we represent an injured client, we want to know every possible detail about their accident. Sadly, this information is often hard to come by and usually requires our firm to conduct our own accident investigation.

When we investigate a commercial truck accident, we focus our attention on three types of evidence:

  • Witness Evidence
  • Investigation Evidence
  • Physical Evidence

Witness Evidence

Every traffic accident investigator will search for anyone who witnessed the accident and will use the statement from that witness as part of the accident report. While witness statements can be valuable in reconstructing the events surrounding an accident, experienced investigators and personal injury lawyers know that such statements must also be supported by other evidence that is directly related to an accident.

Many people are surprised to learn that many “eyewitness” accounts of an accident are eventually shown to be incorrect, at least in part. There have been many explanations put forward to explain why this often the case, none of which should concern the accident victim. Since eyewitnesses can be unreliable, the mere fact that your account of an accident is different from that given by someone else should not keep you from discussing your commercial truck accident with a personal injury lawyer.

Investigation Evidence

By “investigation evidence,” we mean the reports of accident investigations that are prepared by law enforcement agencies such as the local or state police, the federal or state Department of Transportation, or any agency whose duties involve highway safety such as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

In our experience as personal injury lawyers, we have found that many local police investigations only address whether or not a traffic law was violated and do not consider other factors such as equipment failure, visibility, or road conditions. When we are investigating a client’s personal injury claim, we use the law enforcement investigations as a starting point and then determine if the available evidence supports the conclusions of the investigating agencies.

Physical Evidence

Unlike eyewitness accounts that are based on an observer’s memory of what happened, physical evidence is “real” and can be touched, measured, or tested by another person. In a truck accident case, physical evidence can include the damage pattern of a vehicle, photographs of the accident scene, documents related to the maintenance history of the truck, and paper or electronic logbooks that contain a record of the number of hours that a driver had been “on duty” prior to an accident. A major problem with physical evidence in any accident case is that such evidence is frequently “lost” or called into question due to any number of reasons.

You must always remember that, in the absence of a court order, a trucking company is not obligated to preserve any physical evidence related to an accident and it is known that some companies will deliberately destroy evidence that could be used to establish liability for an accident. For this reason alone, you should talk with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident because once a lawsuit is filed, a court can order that all physical evidence is to be preserved by the company or be delivered to the custody of the court.

Contacting a Houston Truck Accident Injury Lawyer

Many truck accident victims make the mistake of trying to negotiate a settlement with the trucking company’s insurance company. There are many reasons that we could give to back up our claim that “going solo” is a very bad idea, but the two most obvious reasons are 1) the trucking company’s insurance carrier has a full staff of lawyers and claims adjusters whose jobs are to settle injury cases for as little money as possible and 2) the insurance company has almost unlimited financial resources while, most likely, you are forced to live on a budget that is strained by the extra expenses related to your injury. Thus, the insurance company can merely do nothing until you accept what they offer.

Accidents involving large commercial trucks can cause serious injuries to the other vehicle’s driver and passengers. In many cases, the true extent of these injuries isn’t fully known until several weeks (or even months) following the accident. Unfortunately, if you have accepted a settlement from an insurance company (either yours or the trucking company’s), you will be unable to receive additional payment for expenses related to these chronic injuries.

If you or a member of your family were injured in a truck accident, we invite you to contact the commercial truck accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm to arrange a free, no-obligation review of your commercial truck accident case and a discussion of the legal options that may be available to you before you accept any settlement offered to you by the truck owner’s insurance company.

When you contact our firm to arrange a review of your truck accident case, your first consultation with our trucking accident injury lawyer is always free and does not require that you hire our firm. Should you decide that we should represent you in court, we are willing to take full responsibility for preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.

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