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What Is a DOT-Recordable Accident?

Posted on June 10, 2021 in

Not all commercial truck accidents are treated equally. Depending on the severity and nature of the accident, it may or may not need to be reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). A DOT-recordable accident is one that is serious enough to require an official accident report given to the DOT. If you get into a collision with a truck that causes injuries or serious property damage, it is most likely a DOT-recordable accident.

DOT Recordable Accident

What Is the DOT?

The DOT is a federal agency that oversees accidents involving commercial motor vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – a department tasked specifically with reducing accidents and fatalities involving large trucks – is a subset of the DOT. The FMCSA maintains a system to keep track of the safety and performance of commercial motor vehicle drivers. This system is similar to the way that the Department of Motor Vehicles places points against a driver’s license for infractions and moving violations.

If a commercial truck driver is involved in a serious accident, regardless of fault, this information will go to the DOT for the record. The federal government will then use this information to create a safety rating for the commercial driver. If a motor carrier’s safety rating drops too low, the driver can lose his or her commercial driver’s license. Being involved in one or more DOT-recordable accidents can reduce a carrier’s safety rating, as can other infractions, such as moving violations.

Which Truck Accidents Are Recordable to the DOT?

A DOT-recordable accident is a commercial motor vehicle crash that must be reported to the Department of Transportation or the FMCSA based on the amount of damage it caused. Federal law sets guidelines on which truck accidents must be reported to the government. These guidelines are not based on fault for the accident or preventability; rather, they are based on the severity of the crash.

A large truck or bus accident is recordable to the DOT if it involves:

  • A truck that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of more than 10,000 pounds and is used on public highways, OR
  • Any motor vehicle equipped to carry nine or more people, including the driver, OR
  • Any motor vehicle that displays a hazardous materials placard, regardless of weight, AND
  • Results in any fatality (including a death that occurs within 30 days of the crash as a result of an injury from the accident), OR
  • Any injury that requires immediate medical treatment away from the scene of the accident, OR
  • Damage to any motor vehicle that disables the vehicle and requires it to be towed away from the scene.

Most collisions that involve large commercial trucks and cause injuries, deaths or serious property damage qualify as DOT-recordable accidents. If a collision meets the DOT’s criteria for going on the record, it can affect the motor carrier’s safety rating. If the driver gets into a subsequent accident that is also the truck driver’s fault, for example, the driver may have his or her commercial license suspended or revoked. Common carriers must maintain accident records for at least three years.

Questions About a DOT-Recordable Accident? Contact a Lawyer

If you or a loved one was recently injured in a DOT-recordable truck accident in Arizona, contact a Scottsdale truck accident attorney near you for legal advice and assistance. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, such as the right to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the common carrier or trucking company. A lawyer can also search for ways to strengthen your case, such as by obtaining the carrier’s previous accident record to use as evidence. Speak to an attorney today when you contact Stone Rose Law.