Why The 18-Wheeler Truck Crash Report Isn’t The Final Word

Texas Attorney: Police May Mistakenly Blame You For the Crash

Video Transcript:

Carson Runge:
If you're involved in an 18 wheeler wreck, call an attorney immediately, even if the crash report says its your fault. If you believe that it's not, call an attorney.

Rob Rosenthal:
If you've been injured in a crash with an 18-wheeler, how important is the crash report? Well, that's what we're going to find out today when we Ask the Lawyer. Hi again everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com and my guest is Texas attorney Carson Runge with the Sloan Law Firm. Carson, thank you for making time. Good to see you again.

Carson Runge:
Rob, thank you for having me.

Rob Rosenthal:
So let's just start at the beginning of the crash report. And someone's been injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler, a crash report... Where does that come from? Who does that?

Carson Runge:
Well, crash reports done by the governmental agency that investigates the crash and in Texas, that can be to the local police department, it can be the local Sheriff's Department, and on major crashes, it's likely gonna involve the Texas Department of Public Safety or the DPS state troopers.

Rob Rosenthal:
And who contributes to it? Is it just the police officer or do they talk to witnesses... What's in that report?

Carson Runge:
Well, I think that what is true is that the governmental agency that is tasked to investigate the record, tasked to create the crash report, they are going to look at the evidence on the scene, and they're going to listen to the parties if the parties involved in the wreck are capable of speaking, and if any witnesses stop, they will take the witnesses' testimony and they're gonna piece it together with those pieces of evidence and make an ultimate decision. In your more serious or fatal crashes, then there are chances that you will have a team Crash team, and so in the State of Texas, there are accident reconstructions teams and consisting of DPS troopers who may perform a very basic accident reconstruction within the crash report itself.

Rob Rosenthal:
And is this information always accurate? Is it the final word?

Carson Runge:
Well, those are two questions. They're not the final word. Certainly, if you're involved in an 18-wheeler wreck you want the crash report and the ultimate conclusions of the investigating officer or deputy are trooper to be in your favor. But if it's not, your case is not lost, the crash report is not the final say so. The insurance companies like to think it is, and sometimes those crash reports become pieces of evidence and are admissible in trial, and sometimes the conclusions of those crash reports are not admissible in trial, and really what a lot of people don't know is that whether or not the crash report and the investigating officers contributing factors are admissible in trial really depends upon the educational background and the training of that individual officer or Trooper. If they have not had accident level reconstruction three training or higher, more likely than not, that investigating officer's or trooper's opinions are not coming into evidence.

Rob Rosenthal:
Have you seen where crash reports are just false, just mistaken?

Carson Runge:
Yeah, a lot of people think that if they're involved with an 18-wheeler in a wreck, the investigating officer is going to be doing a very thorough and detailed investigation into the company and the driver's background and his training, and peacing all these pieces together, and doing forensic analysis. in most cases, that is simply not true. These officers are tasked with a lot more responsibilities than simply figuring out what caused this wreck, they have another wreck to work, they have another crash report that needs writing, they're being called on violent criminals, and so these investigating officers and troopers have a lot of other job responsibilities and sometimes they get it wrong. I've seen it. I just finished a case where a woman was driving with her three kids, and the investigating Trooper put all fault on her, and she was killed as a result of this wreck. There were multiple etewitnesses who put all fault on her. When we did our investigation, we realized that the 18-wheeler driver was actually watching a YouTube video at the time of the wreck, he had drifted over into her lane, which pushed her into the median, which caused her vehicle to roll over. The reality is witnesses just saw the woman fade into the ditch or the median and didn't see the first part of the wreck. We were able to prove what happened through the dash camera on the 18 wheeler. And so the crash report was, it was just wrong, and it wasn't the fact that the troopers tried to do something wrong or intentionally did something wrong, they just didn't have all the pieces of evidence that we were able to obtain, and therefore their opinions were based upon limited evidence.

Rob Rosenthal:
So let's say somebody gets a crash report after such a situation and they go, "Oh my gosh, and it doesn't look good for me." What can an experienced truck accident attorney like yourself help them do in that situation, and what is your advice?

Carson Runge:
Well, my advice is to call an attorney. Get an attorney who's experienced in 18-wheelers, in 18-wheeler crashes and who knows how to investigate, who knows what to look for. The reality is, and in today's society, many of these 18-wheelers have electronic control modules, also known as ECMs. Think of it like a black box that we hear about in airplanes, and you can obtain a lot of information from those black boxes, you can obtain, in some cases, the angle of the steering wheel and the degree that it was turned, you can determine how many seconds prior to the crash the 18-wheeler driver hit his breaks, whether he and his breaks it all, whether he was speeding. You can look at the speed of the 18-wheeler, and the same is true in passenger vehicles.

You can also... In a lot of times, these 18-wheelers have dash cameras, and there are what I call the silent witness. They record what happened, and a lot of times these dash cameras are automatically feeding the footage to a third party storage party who monitors and records and maintains the footage from those dash cameras. So even if you're wreck happened six months ago, a lot of times that footage is still available for an 18-wheeler attorney to get, review, and to examine. And so my best advice is if you're involved in a 18 wheeler wreck, call an attorney immediately, even if the crash report says it's your fault. If you believe that it's not, call an attorney.

Rob Rosenthal:
And there's no charge for that initial consultation for you to take a look at it and determine whether they do have a case correct?

Carson Runge:
That's right. Here at the Sloan Law Firm where I practice and I'm a partner, if you come to us and you were involved in a 18-wheeler, there's no charge for talking with us, there's no charge for meeting with us, there's no charge for us investigating your case and determine whether or not you have a valid claim. We work where we get paid a contingency fee, we get paid if we win for you and only if we win for you , and so that's how most attorneys in personal injury work, and that's how we work here at Sloan Law Firm.

Rob Rosenthal:
Carson as usual, fascinating, enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for answering our questions.

Carson Runge:
Thank you, I appreciate it.

Rob Rosenthal:
That's gonna do it for this episode of AskTheLawyer. My guest has been Texas attorney Carson Runge. If you want the best information or you wanna make sure you get to choose a lawyer that lawyers choose, make sure to go to AsktheLawyers.com. Also, please take a sec and click on the button down in the corner to subscribe. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.

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