Properly investigating a Dallas car accident can mean the difference between success and failure in getting the best result for your personal injury claim.
Dallas and the surrounding cities offer many avenues to do a thorough investigation on Dallas Car Accidents with a limited budget. Whether obtaining the police report, requesting open records, or doing a simple background search, your case starts and ends with the proper investigation.
But, this article is not intended as a substitute for proper legal representation. It is intended only for general reference and information purposes only. My advice is to retain an experienced Dallas personal injury attorney so that a proper investigation can be conducted on your Dallas Car Accident case before the information gets lost or destroyed.
First Thing’s First.
Document the Dallas Car Accident. Get all the relevant driver and insurance information. The insurance information is not enough. Remember, your claim is really against the other driver; not against the insurance company. Get the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and date of birth of the driver. Then, get the name and policy number of the insurance. Take a picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card and confirm that the information is correct.
A picture speaks a thousand words. Get pictures of the vehicles. Pictures can demonstrate the severity of the accident and even verify how the accident occurred. They can confirm how the cars came in contact and even the relative speed of the vehicles.
Get pictures of any visible injuries. After your wounds heal, its hard to later describe what you went though with any sort of specificity. The pictures help put your injuries into perspective.
The Police Report.
Not every accident gets reported. For instance, Dallas, Fort Worth and the surrounding cities, will not dispatch a police officer to an accident scene unless the vehicles are disabled or if someone needs an ambulance.
If the police do make a report, you will be given a small piece of paper like the one on the left. This will have all the information you need to get a copy of your police report. If you do get the police report yourself, you should get a certified copy. Only a certified police report may be used as evidence in court. This will save you the hassle of requesting the report again if you need it for court. In Dallas, for example, a certified police report only costs $2 more than an uncertified report.
Digging Deeper into your Dallas Car Accident Case.
Contacting witnesses at the beginning of the case will help verify their version of the events. Also, you can obtain further contact information in case their testimony is needed in the future.
Check social media. See if the other driver was stupid enough to post something about the accident. If so, take a screen shot and save it for later. At the same time, do not post anything yourself about the accident. It could come back to haunt you.
Open Records Request on a Dallas Car Accident Case.
A wealth of information may be obtained with a simple open records request. Making the request has become much easier than in the past. Now, many departments in the Dallas metroplex offer the ability to make an open records request online. You can also track your request and pay for the records online.
However, making the request and knowing what to ask for are two different things. This is where getting the proper representation can help obtain and preserve some very important evidence.
9-1-1 Call Detail and Audio Recording.
When 9-1-1 is called, a detailed report and audio recording is generated.
These can contain the details of the call, including a description of the incident and the identity of the caller. The audio recordings may also have more details since the caller normally describes what he or she saw when calling 9-1-1. In some instances, the 9-1-1 report may have more information about the incident that is not contained in the police report.
Read the high-lighted portions of the 9-1-1 call detail
I had a case in Plano, Texas, that demonstrated this perfectly. My client was a young lady who was driving up the service road of the Dallas North Tollway at night time. There was road work in the area with construction cones on her left. She attempted to enter the tollway on what appeared to be an opening in the cones for an entrance ramp. Instead, she drove down into the metal re-bar which pierced through the bottom of her vehicle and impaled her abdomen, chest, lungs and exited out of her upper back.
Dash-Cams and Body-Cams for your Dallas Car Accident Case.
Most police departments, including Dallas and Fort Worth, require this.
These videos can prove to be invaluable. For example, I had a case of a car accident in East Dallas. After the collision occurred, the other driver fled the scene. For whatever reason, the police report mentioned nothing about that. It also did not mention any witnesses. However, after I got the 9-1-1 recordings, I was able to get the name and phone number of the caller. He verified that, right after he hung up with 9-1-1, the other driver fled.
When I obtained the dash-cam and body-cam footage, I was able to verify that the other driver did leave the scene. The footage showed him being apprehended behind a shopping mall about two blocks from the accident scene. The body cam recorded the other driver’s conversation with the officers. He admitted to leaving the scene and appeared very scared as he was talking to police.
I had another case in Carrollton, Texas. In that case, a vehicle struck my client’s van while attempting to cross from a side street. The accident happened at night and caused my client van to flip on its side. My client was very seriously injured. The driver of the other vehicle attempted to say that my client’s vehicle did not have her headlights on. The dash-cam and body cams, however, told a different story. The videos clearly showed my client’s van laying on its side with its headlights on. Needless to say, the other driver was proven wrong at the outset and the case resulted in a substantial settlement for the client.
Open Records Request must be Done Right.
Although making an open records request is fairly simple, what to request is most important. That requires experience in knowing what information might be available and when. For instance, 9-1-1 records and police videos may only be retained for a short period of time, sometimes as little as 30 days.
You also need to word your request properly. There are many exemptions to open records. Therefore, if you do not word your request properly, this may cause delay or even having your request denied all together.
Public Data Search.
Sometimes it can be difficult to narrow down the identity of the other driver or their residence. Of course, you will need this information if you are unable to resolve your car accident claim with the insurance company.
Using a site like PublicData.com is useful in looking up driver’s license information. You can also look up motor vehicle registration information to determine the title owner of the vehicle and the registered address. You can also search a person’s criminal history as well as any professional licenses and voter registration information.
Another source of public information is the county’s central appraisal district website. This is a free search done through the specific county records of property ownership and address information.
Just the “Tip of the Ice-Berg.”
I wanted to write this article in order to show the potential benefits of a proper investigation in a car accident case. But there are also many complexities. This article only touches the main points. There may be many finer points. For instance, trucking accidents may involve other agencies such as the state and federal departments of transportation or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Therefore, if you take anything any from this article, it is that the proper investigation is crucial in obtaining valuable evidence. This is especially important when dealing with serious personal injuries or even a wrongful death. When so much is a stake, your best move is to hire an experienced Dallas car accident attorney who knows the ropes in the Dallas / Fort Worth area and where to find the information needed to win your case.