Most people just call 911 to report a car accident. However, trucking companies are legally required to report some truck accidents to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and property damage. Negligence by a trucking company puts everyone on the road at risk.

Therefore, DOT requires trucking companies to report accidents so DOT can track the companies’ accident records. If the DOT identifies a pattern of negligence, a trucking company may be subject to various penalties. This can ensure a company will be more careful in the future to avoid accidents.

Knowing whether an accident qualifies as DOT-recordable can be challenging if you’re not familiar with the applicable laws. This basic overview will help you better understand the topic.

Which Types of Accidents Are DOT-Recordable?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (which the DOT oversees) defines commercial motor vehicles as vehicles that are used to transport people or property on behalf of company.

Vehicles that may be defined as commercial motor vehicles may include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • Semi-trucks/eighteen wheelers
  • Busses
  • Dump trucks
  • Garbage trucks
  • Delivery vans
  • Utility trucks

Those are merely a few examples. A company that operates commercial motor vehicles must generally report accidents to the DOT in the following circumstances:

  • An accident results in property damage to one or more vehicles that requires the vehicle(s) to be towed from the scene
  • An accident leaves victims with injuries that require immediate medical attention
  • An accident causes one or more deaths

Importantly, a company doesn’t need to be at fault for the accident to be subject to reporting requirements. An accident involving the circumstances described above must be recorded and reported regardless of who caused it.

What to Do After a Truck Accident

These requirements don’t only have implications for the companies required to keep records and report them to the DOT. For example, perhaps you were injured in a Baltimore truck accident. You don’t need to take any steps in regard to letting the DOT know about it. That is the responsibility of the trucking company.

However, you can seek compensation for your injuries and related losses by filing a claim to collect from the trucking company’s insurance. You also have the option of filing a lawsuit if the insurance company won’t offer a fair settlement.

To recover any compensation, you will need to show that the trucking company’s negligence caused the accident. This evidence can come in many forms.

One way you can strengthen your case is to retrieve the company’s records that the DOT requires them to file and maintain. Such records may show the company’s pattern of negligence has frequently resulted in accidents. This may help you argue that they have a history of negligence and such negligence caused your accident also.

Keep in mind that you do not have to go about the tedious process of accessing these records yourself. You can hire an attorney to represent you. They will access the company’s DOT-recordable accident files so you don’t have to. They will also identify other ways you can establish negligence was a factor in your accident, significantly boosting your chances of recovering fair compensation. 

You shouldn’t go it alone after a truck accident. There’s too much at stake, including medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Contact a Baltimore personal injury lawyer for help.