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What is a DOT-Recordable Accident?

January 1, 2022 By John Torgenson

Accidents involving large commercial trucks often result in significant injuries and extensive property damage. As with every other vehicle accident that occurs in Arizona, accidents involving commercial vehicles must be reported to law enforcement officials. However, when a crash involves a commercial truck, there are other reporting requirements. Most commercial vehicle accidents are considered “DOT-recordable” events. If you or somebody you love has been involved in an accident caused by a commercial vehicle driver or company, then you need to know what a DOT-recordable accident is.

What is a DOT-Recordable Accident?

What Accident Types are DOT-Recordable

In Arizona, just about every vehicle accident must be reported to law enforcement officials. However, this is not the same thing as a DOT-recordable incident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees the regulation of commercial trucking activity in Arizona and throughout the United States. When determining whether or not an accident is DOT-recordable, we can turn to the definition found under Section 390.5 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). According to this definition, an accident is “an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a highway in interstate or intrastate commerce” which results in:

  • A fatality;
  • A bodily injury to a person who immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene; or
  • One or more vehicles incurring disabling damage due to the accident that requires one or more vehicles to be towed away.

It is important to point out that a DOT-recordable accident does not include incidents that involve only the loading or unloading of cargo.

What Information is Included in the Report?

Accidents that qualify as a DOT-recordable incident must include the motor carrier’s accident register. This is an internal document created and maintained by the specific motor carrier. Federal law says that the motor carrier’s accident register has to include the following information about each recordable incident:

  1. The date of the accident
  2. The name of city or town, or the nearest city or town where the accident occurred
  3. The driver’s name
  4. The number of injuries
  5. The number of fatalities
  6. Whether or not any hazardous material aside from fuel from the fuel tank of the truck was released

Federal law requires motor carriers to maintain this information on their accident register for three years. Additionally, motor carriers must obtain and keep all copies of accident reports prepared by law enforcement officers who responded to the scene.

The Severity of Truck Accidents

Data available from the Federal Highway Administration shows that large commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded with cargo. This weight, along with the overall size of the commercial truck, can lead to significant damage when an impact with a smaller vehicle occurs. It is not uncommon for those inside smaller vehicles to sustain severe injuries in an accident, including:

  • Fractured or dislocated bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
  • Crush injuries or amputations
  • Significant scarring and disfigurement
  • Extreme emotional and psychological trauma

If you or somebody you care about has been involved in a commercial motor vehicle accident in Arizona, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer will investigate every aspect of your claim and work to gather the evidence needed to prove liability. They will also handle all communication and negotiation with the trucking company and their insurance carriers to recover the compensation you are entitled to.

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John Torgenson

After high school, John attended the University of Utah, graduating in 2001. John then attended his dream school, Notre Dame Law School, where he graduated, with honors, in 2004. John is licensed to fight in court for real people in the State of Arizona, the United States Federal District Court of Arizona, and the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Before establishing what is now Torgenson Law, John practiced in the litigation group at Fennemore Craig, the oldest law firm in Arizona, and one of the largest firms in the Southwest. Having practiced at Fennemore Craig in both the defense and plaintiff’s practice areas gives John a complete perspective of the litigation process, and valuable insight into how to efficiently and effectively advance his clients’ interests. His unique and balanced background enhances his credibility with defense lawyers, insurers, and defendants as well as with judges and arbitrators.