If you were injured in an auto accident in the state of Texas, the law establishes a time frame in which you must file suite (also known as a statute of limitations). For most personal injury related matters, you have two years from the date of your injury to take legal action. While you have two years, we suggest that you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible so that there is sufficient time to investigate the incident and make sure your rights are fully protected.
Timing is even more important if you were hurt by a large commercial truck. Most commercial vehicles have various computer systems and recording devices that can provide valuable insight into what occurred during a collision. However, this data is usually only maintained for a short period of time and can be erased if you wait too long.
Truck Accident Reporting
Most trucking companies have strict rules and guidelines that apply when one of its drivers are involved in a collision. These rules and guidelines are designed to minimize the risk and financial exposure to the trucking company. This is another reason that you want to hire an experienced trucking lawyer as soon as possible so that you too can take the steps necessary to protect your rights and preserve relevant information.
Assuming the company is complying with the best practices in the trucking industry, the company will have a post-accident drug and alcohol testing. In fact, under certain circumstances the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires post-accident drug or alcohol testing occur. Regulations state that testing must occur “as soon as practicable” after an accident if the accident resulted in the following:
- Death of another person; or
- A citation for a moving violation for the truck driver AND bodily injury or disabling damage to another car.
Such testing should be conducted quickly so as to not allow the alcohol or drugs to dissipate from a driver’s system. If the trucking company fails to do so, it could face fines and penalties from the FMCSA.
Trucking Companies have Many Resources
Trucking companies and their insurance companies have substantial resources and they use these resources to reduce any financial exposure they may have after a collision. As soon as a company learns of a collision, it will often send its own accident investigators to the scene to begin reviewing many different factors. Investigators have been known to confiscate:
- Timesheets or record books kept by the driver;
- In-Truck surveillance cameras;
- Any evidence of drug or alcohol use; and
- Any evidence of distracted driving.
If a trucking company investigator takes such evidence, it will be more difficult to show what occurred and why the trucking company is responsible. While most trucking companies will cooperate with authorities and be honest during an investigation, others may try to avoid liability by covering up the cause of the collision. If records are changed or surveillance video is erased, it becomes a lot more challenging to prove that a truck driver was negligent in causing the collision and your resulting injuries.
While you cannot always avoid the head-start that trucking companies often get when investigating a truck accident, you can help to diminish it by contacting a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible following a collision.