What Is a DOT-Recordable Accident?

Accidents occur every day on California roads, from minor bumps between vehicles to extremely severe multi-vehicle collisions. These collisions can involve passenger vehicles, motorcycles, pedestrians, and commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks and buses. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the federal Department of Transportation (DOT), keeps track of collisions involving commercial vehicles. If an accident involving a commercial vehicle results in significant damage, it will need to be recorded by the DOT.

When Does an Accident Need to Be Reported to the DOT?

All motor carriers must keep track of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles. If a collision meets the following criteria, it must be recovered by the federal DOT.

  • At least one person died as a result of the collision.
  • At least one person suffered a bodily injury and had to receive emergency medical attention away from the scene of the accident.
  • One or more of the vehicles involved in the accident had to be towed away from the collision.

When reporting a DOT-recordable accident, the reporter must include the date, city, and state of the collision. Vital information such as the name of the commercial driver, the number of injuries, and the number of fatalities must also be reported. When submitting the report, the reporter must include copies of all accident reports involved in the case.

What Happens After an Accident Is Reported to the DOT?

California drivers are familiar with the concept of points, which are strikes levied against your driver’s license after a traffic violation. The points system is monitored by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Drivers who accumulate a certain number of points could face severe consequences, such as the permanent loss of driving privileges.

The FMCSA maintains a similar system involving DOT-recordable accidents. When a Bakersfield accident involving a commercial driver is reported, the FMCSA will record it and monitor violations committed by certain drivers. The FMCSA will also track violations that occur within individual trucking companies. 

If a trucking company incurs a certain number of DOT-recordable incidents, it could affect that carrier’s safety rating. The FMCSA will take the number of accidents associated with the carrier, multiply the number by one million, and divide it by the number of miles that the motor carrier has traveled over the past 12 months.

Collecting DOT-recordable accident data also helps the FMCSA identify potentially negligent commercial vehicle carriers. Trucking companies with unusually high numbers of incidents may not be training their drivers, hiring qualified personnel, or maintaining their vehicles regularly. A carrier may also encourage their drivers to break important trucking regulations, such as hours-of-service rules. 

If a carrier has a history of DOT-recordable accidents, the FMCSA can impose serious penalties, such as fines.

Speak to a California Truck Accident Lawyer

If you are involved in a commercial vehicle accident on California roads, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Through an insurance claim or lawsuit, you can recover compensatory damages to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, you need a Bakersfield personal injury attorney on your side to represent your best interests.

A California truck accident lawyer can help you navigate the litigation process and secure the compensation you deserve. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your accident to discuss your case and identify your optimal path to recovery.