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Truck Accident Investigation

If you have seen the aftermath of a collision between a car or pickup truck and a tractor-trailer, you know that the results can be life-changing, even catastrophic. If you or someone you love has been involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle, it is important that you get a good truck accident investigation ASAP. This will help win your liability case against the 18-wheeler driver and his company.

The injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain, disfigurement, and disability, and vehicle damage from a collision with a semi truck can be phenomenally high. You will need a substantial sum to reimburse yourself for your damages. This can be a major injury, high-dollar situation that both sides want to win. Almost every personal injury case is settled out of court. You can usually make the insurance company representatives pay a reasonable amount of money, but only after you have proven your case. Getting a fair settlement or a jury verdict from an insurance company or trucking company can be impossible without a strong legal team backing you.

What a personal injury lawyer is looking for

Your injury attorney can create a reconstruction of the accident scene, especially if he is able to view the scene before the police have cleared away the debris. This can provide important information about what each vehicle was doing at the time of the collision. For example, did the semi truck drift out of its lane, tailgate, speed, or fail to yield the right of way at an intersection? Did the weight shift when it should have been properly secured or did an unsecured piece of cargo fly out of the vehicle? Was the truck properly maintained? Was the driver qualified? Were any other vehicles at fault? Was the weather or condition of the road a factor? A fast immediate investigation enables your personal injury lawyer to collect evidence. In a motor vehicle collision, no matter how severe, the police report is primarily an internal document for record keeping. The police often don’t take witness statements, take photographs, reconstruct the accident scene, download vehicle speeds and stopping data, or stop the trucking company from destroying evidence. It also allows your attorney to notify all parties that a lawsuit is in progress. He can notify all parties, particularly the trucking company, that no evidence may be tampered with, destroyed, or changed in any way.

What each side will be doing

The driver is carefully trained and knows what he must do. You don't. He must call his dispatcher, who will alert the company's crash response team, including attorneys and accident reconstruction experts. They will be at the site within minutes and will coach their driver, scour the scene, take photos and measurements, talk to witnesses, and work with the police officer to possibly shape his perception. But you will be injured, dazed, and might even be unconscious. You might be taken away from the scene to the emergency room by ambulance. What do you think will happen in the mean time? Important evidence will be taken that you need. It can possibly be destroyed or lost. The investigation must begin as soon after the impact as possible. Each minute, each day can be critical. But too many people wait for a police report to arrive and then find that it contains insufficient information to prosecute their case. Or they never see the police report and have no idea how to get one. We immediately obtain the report for any one who asks us, at no charge. This protects evidence that can win or lost your lawsuit including the driver's cell phone with text messages about traffic, speed, delivery times, weight, malfunctions, stops, and required rest. And almost all cell phone use while driving is outlawed by the FMCSA.

Text Messages

Berenson Injury Law has filed many commercial vehicle collision lawsuits over the last 39 years. We just resolved one against a major carrier that injured two people, one seriously.

What our law firm does after being hired

  • Go the the site of the wreck to get evidence
  • Work with an accident reconstruction expert
  • Get statements from witnesses
  • Get the police officer's photos and notes
  • Obtain and analyze the police report
  • Research the other driver and company
  • Write a letter demanding that the trucking company preserve the truck and all evidence
  • Mail a letter to the trucking company making it preserve evidence
  • Download black boxes of vehicles involved
  • Helps our client get the medical treatment they need
Commercial truck collisions are often difficult legal battles because they can cause serious injuries. If you have been involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer, it is in your best interest to hire a good personal injury lawyer. If you are looking for a legal team to get a good verdict or settlement from a trucking company, contact Berenson Injury Law. We will help you get the compensation that you deserve.

What your attorney can do to protect you

Most big trucking corporations have a legal team ready to jump into action as soon as an accident occurs. They keep a playbook of tactics for minimizing liability. I know these tactics well; I have encountered them time and time again. But I have my own playbook of strategies to protect my clients' rights. Not hiring an experienced attorney right away can put the victim at a disadvantage. An attorney can counter these common defense tactics:

1. Be first to the scene

The tractor-trailer company retains private investigators to immediately show up on the scene. These investigators walk around without restraint, taking photographs, interviewing witnesses, chatting with police officers, and looking for mitigating evidence. A company investigator may even give the false impression that he is a police officer so victims are more forthcoming. They then use the statements made in the frightening aftermath of the accident and often twist around the victim's words or take them out of context. This is why I also head to the scene for my clients. I gather evidence at this crucial stage and prevent the defendant from speaking to my client.

Faulty brakes, overloaded cargo, under inflated tires and sleep-deprived drivers are truck accidents waiting to happen. These are the very safety issues targeted by rigorous Texas Department of Public Safety inspections. DPS officers inspect trucks and drivers and issue decals to indicate the fleet is safe and are required to take unsafe tractor-trailers out of service. Or at least that's what usually happens. But recently the owner of a Dallas trucking company paid off a dishonest DPS inspector in exchange for the required safety decals. The company claims to be “frequently recognized for its integrity and reliability” and that “safety is our biggest concern.” But instead of fixing any safety violations, the owner forked over $20,000 in bribes to keep his dangerous fleet of tractor-trailers on the road.  Let's hope that Cruz and Sons Transportation is the only truck company which has done this. Texans should be angry about this bribery. It's bad enough that one of our public officials is being paid off, but worse that he potentially put our lives at risk. These inspections are crucial to keep Texas roads safe.

In addition to dozens of auto and truck crashes in the North Texas area this weekend, there were two fatal 18 wheeler accidents that tragically took the lives of four people. On Friday afternoon in Benbrook a tractor-trailer collided with a pickup truck on I-20, tragically killing two people. Then on Saturday night a second tractor-trailer crash occurred in Cleburne. The 1997 Peterbuilt commercial truck T-boned a Kia van at the intersection of U.S. Highway 67 at FM Road 1434, taking the lives of an East Texas woman and man. It was an unusually busy weekend for the Texas Highway Patrol, local police and accident investigators. Both roads were closed for hours while investigators determined what happened. Although the crashes are now cleared, leaving no trace of the tragedies that unfolded hours ago, investigators have a long way to go to find answers. It is not clear at this time who was at fault for these two crashes. Trust me, the trucking companies and their insurance companies adjusters and lawyers are working equally hard. In addition to getting to the bottom of what happened, they are focused on lessening their financial damages. Think about what the trucking corporations have at stake. Violations can add up to costly fines and repairs, not to mention increased insurance premiums, keeping trucks out of service and bad publicity. And because truck wrecks are often catastrophic, the insurance company may be on the hook for huge million dollar jury verdicts or settlements. If you have been involved in a collision, you can see that it is a good idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can so you are on an equal playing field.

Proposed Rule is a Big Win for Roadway Safety The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a new and improved safety rating system last week.  The proposed rule would replace an outdated 34 year-old system of determining whether commercial vehicles are safe enough to be on the road. The new big truck Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) replaces a three-tiered system of rating trucks to a simple "fit" or "unfit" designation, and thereby removes unsafe tractor-trailers from the road, rather than putting them in a conditional status.  This makes more sense, because a truck is either safe enough to be on the road or should cease operation until it is brought up to par. The safety of commercial motor vehicles would be assessed monthly, using stricter standards. In addition, critical or acute problems would render a vehicle unsafe. The SFD system would permit FMCSA to inspect an estimated 75,000 motor carriers each month to determine safety fitness.  This is a huge improvement over the current system, which only permits the FMCSA to investigate 15,000 per year!  The public comment period is open for 60 days. After considering these comments, the agency will issue a final rule. Let's hope the FMCSA approves these new guidelines.  

Dallas-Fort Worth Attorney's Investigation and Trial Prep Checklist

During the past 35 years I have represented 18 wheeler accident victims, I have fine-tuned my investigation and trial preparations. Each step we take is designed to reach the maximum possible settlement or verdict for our clients.

1. Collecting Evidence from the Crash Site

Early investigation of a commercial vehicle accident is crucial. Corporations descend upon the crash site within hours of the accident to conduct damage control. We are working on a case where a senior attorney was at the scene at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning talking to company employees, examining evidence, and taking photographs and video. Then the accident is cleaned up right after law enforcement finishes its investigation. As soon as we are retained, our representatives visit the scene to represent your interests before evidence is permanently lost. 

We interview talk witnesses while their memories are still fresh and analyze debris scatter, positions of the vehicles, skid marks, roadway conditions and other evidence that build your case. 

2. Investigating the Collision

We don't just rely upon police reports and their analysis of the evidence. We inspect the tractor-trailer with the assistance of highly trained experts. We go over the entire vehicle with a fine-toothed comb, looking for the smallest piece of evidence that could lead us to the causes of the crash.

We also subpoena phone, GPS, black box and other records to determine what occurred in the days, hours and seconds before the crash. 

Applying this level of diligence, we have often discovered the smoking gun. 

All Occupants of Team Van Were Seriously Injured in the Tractor-Trailer Wreck

The driver of a tractor-trailer was charged on Friday with four counts of fatal tractor-trailer accident occurred on Interstate 35 near Turner Falls in Southern Oklahoma. The North Central Texas College softball team was returning to their Gainesville, TX campus from a game they had played in Oklahoma earlier in the day. 

In recent years, there has been growing pressure to use black boxes to improve safety in the commercial trucking industry. These monitoring systems -- also known as electronic log systems, electronic data recorders and electronic control modules systems -- are implemented in commercial trucks throughout the country.It's important for attorneys to download a truck's black box data as soon as possible following a serious truck accident. This information can help prove your case -- and discredit the defense. Below, we've provided an overview of the legal importance of black boxes. Truck GPS and black boxes Usually equipped with global positioning systems, truck black boxes are the main source of information about the truck and its journey, and show where the truck was before the crash.

In a tragic accident in north Fort Worth, a woman was killed when she ran a stop light and was hit by a semi-truck. According to a report by the Star-Telegram, the accident occurred around seven in the evening at the intersection of North Sylvania Avenue and Meacham Boulevard. Evidently, the woman was on her cell phone as she ran a red light and drove into the intersection where she collided with the semi-truck. I have blogged about distracted driving on many occasions and urge all drivers not to use their cell phones. The woman suffered major injuries and was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. The driver of the semi-truck was not injured in the accident. Cell Phones and Fatal Texas Truck Accidents It just so happened that this time it was a woman driving a car who was distracted while on the telephone when she caused the accident resulting in her death. However, each year there are hundreds of accidents involving distracted semi-truck drivers where they are the ones at fault.

A semi-truck carrying a huge concrete beam that weighed 150,000 pounds flipped over on the westbound I-695 ramp to northbound Central Expressway. According to a report by My Fox DFW, the accident occurred around 7 p.m. and took the next day to clean up due to the enormity of the concrete beam. The beam was not secured properly and broke free during the 18-wheeler accident and ended along with the tractor trailer on the highway. It is a miracle that there were no other vehicles around when the concrete and semi truck hit the pavement. Emergency crews had no way to remove the giant beam from the highway so they spent the better part of the night using jack hammers to break it apart so it could be removed. It is not clear what caused the 18 wheeler to overturn on the roadway.
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