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INVESTIGATION REPORTS IN AUTO ACCIDENT CASE

Jul 23

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7/23/2014 2:01 PM  RssIcon

            In many cases, fault is simple and clear are (1)  victim stopped at red light or due to traffic and the defendant crashes into the rear of the victim, (2) defendant is on the wrong side of the road, (3)  defendant turns left into the victim, and (4) defendant pulls on to road and collides with victim.  In some cases it is not clear what happened or who was at fault.

            In most auto accidents an officer from some policing agency (City, Sheriff, or Department of Public Safety) will come to the scene after the fact and conduct an investigation.  The officer will fill out and file a “Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (form CR-3).”  Such reports provide many details about the drivers, insurance, and factors that caused the accident.  Often, the reports will document if a driver was intoxicated or got a traffic ticket.  The report may list witnesses to the auto accident.  The reports can be obtained from the Texas Department of Transportation, 125 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas 78701-2483.

            The starting point in establishing what happened is to get the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report.  It has been my experience that the officer that completed that report will stand by his/her findings.  The investigating officer is always identified in the report.  The next step is to contact the investigating officer and find out if they made and kept field notes.  Most of them make field notes that contain a great deal of information that is not included in the report.  The field notes often contain the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses who the officer relied on to get the information that goes into the report.  Additionally, the officer may have photographs in the field notes.

            When the victim is seriously injured and immediately taken away from the scene in an ambulance the investigating officer may never talk to the victim to get the victim’s side of the story.  Sometimes the officer will go to the hospital and talk to the victim.

            The importance of the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report is that it can and usually will be admitted into evidence at a jury trial to determine fault and damages.  The investigating officer will usually come to trial and testify about his training and experience investigating auto accidents, and how he went about investigating the auto accident in question.  Those officers usually make a very good appearance and are very credible.  In my experience, juries will go along with what the investigating officer determined.

            Another important investigative report is the report of the Emergency Medical Service team that responded to the scene and transported the victim to the hospital.  They make a report that mostly documents the condition of the victim, but they sometimes document information about how the auto accident occurred and how the victim had to be extracted from the vehicle.

            Fire departments respond to many serious auto accidents, and they also make reports documenting important information.  Many fire fighters take photographs at the scene.

            Newspaper and television stations often report and document serious accidents with photographs and video.  It is important to obtain such photographs and videotape.

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VERDICTS AND SETTLEMENTS in which Rockne W. Onstad was Lead Counsel or Co-Counsel

Gross Amount Client Recovery Attorney Fee Expenses Nature
$13,650,000 $8,055,000 $5,460,000 $135,000     Product Liability, Apache Helicopter Gear Box, Spinal Injuries (settlement)
$9,200,000 $6,320,064 $2,760,000 $119,358     Product Liability, Defective Aircraft Carburetor, Wrongful Death (settlement)
$6,800,000 $4,473,334 $2,266,666 $60,000     Premises Liability, Brain Injury, Water Park Slide (settlement)
$5,000,000 $3,662,224 $1,250,000 $87,775     Obstetrical negligence, cerebral palsy, Federal Tort Claim Act case (settlement)
$4,980,000 $2,437,000 $2,490,000 $53,000     Obstetrical Negligence, Fetal Asphyxia, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
$4,300,000 $309,000 $138,000 $13,000     Pilot Error, Airplane Crash, Wrongful Death (jury verdict)
$3,850,000 $2,373,000 $1,425,000 $52,000     Labor & Delivery Negligence, Fetal Distress, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
$3,500,000 $2,028,000 $1,400,000 $72,000     Product Liability, Design Defect, Spinal Cord Injury (settlement)
$3,235,000 $2,361,250 $808,750 $65,000     Brain Injury, Federal Tort Claim, FAA Negligence (verdict) affirmed on appeal
$3,000,000 $1,724,000 $1,200,000 $76,000     Neurosurgical Malpractice, Cauda Equina Syndrome (settlement)
$2,950,000 $1,731,000 $1,180,000 $39,000     Defective Design of Helicopter, Paralysis & Wrongful Death (settlement)
$2,900,000 $844,000 $694,000 $26,000     Auto Accident, Spinal Injury & Ankle Injury (jury verdict/settlement)
$2,800,000 $1,864,667 $924,333 $12,000     Premises Liability, Hotel Fire, Wrongful Death (settlement)
$2,500,000 $1,644,667 $833,333 $22,000     Product Liablity, Defective Farm Tractor, Arm Loss (settlement)
$2,300,000 $1,399,000 $960,000 $41,000     Anesthesiologist Negligence, Brain Injury (settlement)
$2,300,000 $1,091,000 $920,000 $59,000     Product Liability, All Terrain Vehicle, Spinal Injury (settlement)
$2,200,000 $1,321,000 $733,333 $44,000     Cerebral Palsy, Obstetrical Malpractice, Preeclampsia (settlement)
$2,200,000 $1,267,000 $880,000 $53,000     Construction Negligence & Insurance Bad Faith, Spinal Injury(settlement)
$2,200,000 $1,191,000 $880,000 $129,000     Product liability, subdural hematoma (settlement)
$2,183,796 $1,426,334 $557,666 $163,796     Hospital Labor Nurse Negligence, Fetal Distress, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
$2,000,000 $1,303,334 $666,666 $30,000     Anesthesia Malpractice, Esophageal Intubation, Wrongful Death (settlement)
$2,000,000 $1,106,887 $800,000 $93,111     Radiologist Negligence, Brain Catheterization, Stroke (settlement)
$2,000,000 $976,484 $976,482 $47,034     Obstetrician Malpractice, Forceps Delivery, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
$2,000,000 $972,331 $972,669 $55,000     Obstetrical Malpractice, IUGR, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
$1,900,000 $905,000 $950,000 $45,000     Clinic Failure to Supervise Impaired Physician, 4 Injured (settlement)
$1,900,000 $73,000     Pilot Error, Helicopter Crash, Wrongful Death (jury verdict-no insurance coverage)
$1,860,000 $978,518 $645,000 $137,480     Neurosurgeon Negligence, Infection, Cauda Equina Syndrome (settlement)
$1,700,000 $1,130,730 $565,363 $3,907     Product Liability, Defective Design, Burns (settlement)
$1,500,000 $847,000 $600,000 $53,000     Defective Aircraft Component, Military Aircraft, Wrongful Death (settlement)
$1,425,000 $900,310 $457,571 $67,119     Intraoperative Spinal Cord Monitoring Negligence, Spinal Cord Injury (settlement)
$1,400,000 $848,221 $503,552 $51,227     Obstetrician Malpractice, Group B Strep Infection, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
$1,400,000 $718,689 $560,000 $130,522     Neurosurgeon Negligence, Infection, Brain Injury (jury trial & settlement)
$1,400,000 $818,000 $560,000 $22,000     Auto Trucking Accident, Spinal Injury (settlement)
$1,350,000 $926,394 $370,835 $52,769     Wrongful death. Unnecessary hysterectomy (settlement)
$1,300,000 $718,689 $520,000 $26,000     Neonatal Nurse Negligence, Visual Impairment (settlement)
$1,300,000 $285,000 $250,000 $33,189     Emergency Room Negligence, Wrongful Death (jury verdict and settlement))
$1,237,000 $718,689 $400,000 $30,000     Cardiologist Negligence, Brain Injury (settlement)
$1,200,000 $659,879 $395,666 $144,455     Prolapsed umbilical cord, Labor Nurse Negligence (settlement)
$1,167,000 $594,086 $417,000 $72,513     Emergency Room Negligence, Heart Attack, Wrongful Death (settlement)
$1,150,000 $727,667 $383,333 $39,000     Obstetrician Negligence, Group B Strep, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
$1,111,000 $594,933 $444,400 $71,623     Product Liability, Heart Stent, Heart Damage (settlement)
$1,100,000 $770,000 $440,000 $25,996     Radiologist Negligence, Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer, Death (settlement)
$1,060,000 $532,715 $478,991 $48,810     Obstetrician Negligence, Breech Delivery, Cerebral Palsy (settlement)
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