Evidence of a truck accident must be investigated to establish liability
Truck accidents are one of the most dangerous kinds of accidents that a person may be involved in. They have the greatest incidence of fatalities and property damage of any other kind of car accident. The damage and injuries incurred in truck accidents have a habit of putting those involved out of commission for the duration of the ordeal if they survive.
Fortunately, if the trucking firm is found to be at fault, a personal injury lawsuit might result in a very significant payout. To get compensation from a truck accident personal injury claim, an investigation into whether the trucking firm was negligent in any manner that caused the accident must be conducted.
Investigation of a Truck Accident
The success of a truck accident personal injury lawsuit hinges on collecting evidence via an investigation. With a potential claimant wounded and out of commission, trucking businesses have an advantage in preparing for a potential personal injury claim and a handy misfiling of any records exposing them to carelessness. Due to carelessness on the side of a trucking company, evidence is often just not captured.
Most papers pertinent to a truck accident inquiry do not need to be kept on file for as long as one would expect. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Trucking companies must keep a record of duty status for drivers for six months, annual inspection records for commercial vehicles for fourteen months from the date of the report, and roadside inspection reports for only twelve months, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).
Examples of Evidence from Truck Accidents
Reports on the accident and the drivers
Logbooks for drivers
Statements of Eyewitnesses
Road marks from a tire or a gouge
Photographs of the Accident Scene
The credentials of the truck driver
The Driving Record of a Trucker
Medical History of a Trucker
Inspection Reports for Trucks
Data from Onboard Electronic Recording Devices (EOBRs)
Records from cell phones
Compliance History of the Trucking Company
Wreckage from a Truck Obtaining Evidence in a Truck Accident Send a Letter of Spoliation
A spoliation letter is a formal request for any evidence related to an accident to be maintained and preserved in the case. A spoliation letter might indicate precisely what evidence must be carefully maintained when issued to an insurance company or a transportation business.
While some evidence may be overlooked since it is hard to know about everything, trucking firms are expected to keep thorough records on the car and driver involved in the accident. The following types of evidence may be nominated for preservation in a spoliation letter:
inspection reports for trucks
logbooks for drivers
Photographs of the accident site
data from onboard electronic recording devices (EOBRs)
Allowing the truck wreckage to be repaired is not a good idea
Trucking firms will use a strategy in which they aim to get their hands on a truck involved in an accident as quickly as possible so that it may be repaired according to regulations. If there was any proof that the corporation was negligent in ensuring the truck’s upkeep, the case would be dismissed.
It would be lost if it did not meet regulatory requirements. Check the car as quickly as possible for this proof since poor maintenance standards are a powerful approach to establish guilt.
The driver’s record can tell you when a truck was last inspected and whether a trucker followed the hours-of-service restrictions. When such facts are compared to the EOBR data, it may be determined if the driver’s logs have been tampered with.
Cell phone data may reveal if driver attention was a factor in a truck accident.
EOBR data may also reveal if an accident was caused by speeding or truck equipment failure.
In addition to position, GPS systems may provide information on journey direction and speed.
If drive cam film is available, it may be very useful since it offers visual proof of what happened from the truck’s viewpoint.
Accident reports prepared by officers arriving on the site should include detailed information on when the accident happened, when police were sent, weather conditions, eyewitness identities and testimonies, and if the officer suspected drug or alcohol impairment.
Examine the trucker’s medical history, credentials, and driving history
Investigating these documents may reveal whether or not the trucker had received adequate training and certification for the car they were operating. You may also see whether they have a history of breaking trucking rules, traffic offences, or even past accidents. You may examine a trucker’s medical records to determine if they have any medical issues that may have harmed their driving abilities and caused an accident by looking at their medical records.
Examine the trucking company’s history
If a trucking firm has a history of being irresponsible in any manner, it will almost certainly be recorded in a personal injury lawsuit. They may have a history of breaking state or federal trucking standards, or they may have recruited unfit drivers in the past. Trucking businesses should also track how many of their drivers have been in collisions.
Witnesses to Truck Accidents should be contacted
Witness testimony is very helpful in deciding who is to blame in a truck collision. They may prove more difficult to get since most people involved in truck accidents are too hurt to leave the site. Fortunately, police and investigators will almost always try to get witness testimony. If they can be obtained, their testimony may also be beneficial.
What Factors Contribute to Truck Accidents?
Truck collisions result in more significant injuries than car collisions. Large trucks are frequently 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger cars, resulting in severe casualties in the event of an accident. These sorts of terrifying accidents may be caused by several circumstances or a combination of events, such as truck problems or driver mistakes.
Some of the most prevalent causes of truck accidents are discussed here.
In certain truck accidents, braking ability is a significant issue. A loaded tractor-trailer has a much longer stopping distance (about 20 to 40 percent higher) than a car. When weather conditions generate slick roads or brakes are not properly maintained, the situation worsens.
A loaded car moving at highway speeds in excellent road conditions requires approximately two football fields to come to a full stop. Rear-end collisions are the most prevalent form of a tractor-trailer accident.
Commercial trucks have a greater ground clearance than passenger cars. Underride collisions may occur when the cars’ heights are out of sync. These are terrifying collisions in which the smaller car, generally a passenger car, is crushed under the larger car.
The trailer or truck Large cars with underride protection on the back and sides lessen the chance of such collisions.
When braking or engaged in an accident, large cars are prone to rolling over.
Crashes. Electronic stability controls use sensors to predict truck instability. Electronic stability controls are now required under new laws, which may prevent rollover accidents in the future.
Another significant cause of accidents is overworked and exhausted truck drivers.
Accidents. The amount of time a trucker may drive without stopping is governed by strict government restrictions. On the other hand, drivers sometimes break the rules on their own or as a result of pressure from the trucking firm. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, truckers who have been driving for more than eight hours are twice as likely to be involved in an accident.
Electronic logging devices are now required by federal legislation.
Drunkenness and drug abuse. Federal requirements mandate pre-employment driver testing, as well as random testing.
Many truck accidents are caused by careless driving and speeding.
Truck components that are defective, such as brakes or tires, might cause accidents.
A truck accident might be caused by hazardous road conditions. These might include not just the weather but also potential road dangers.
Loose or improperly loaded goods may move or break free.
Because trucks are such massive and intricate cars, they need frequent maintenance.
Truck drivers who are insufficiently or inadequately trained may cause accidents.
In the event of a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
Truck collisions often result in severe injury or death. As a result, truck accident victims are forced to cope with human pain and significant financial losses. Non-monetary damages, such as pain and suffering, may also be recoverable for these persons.
Following a truck accident, many parties may be held liable, including but not limited to:
The driver of the truck
The transportation firm or the employer of the driver
The maker of the car
Businesses that make truck components
Companies that conducted truck or trailer maintenance or repairs
The firm that loaded or carried the cargo
As with any legal claim, the injured individual must establish that the person or entity that caused the accident was negligent, reckless, or purposefully committed something wrong. Evidence must be collected and preserved to prove guilt and assess the magnitude of the injured person’s losses.
This is the best moment to start this procedure straight after the accident. Unfortunately, this is when the stress of the accident and the repercussions of the injuries may overwhelm an accident victim. However, if crucial evidence is not preserved promptly, it may be lost or destroyed permanently.
What Kinds of Evidence Should Be Saved?
Ensure that all evidence is preserved and not lost—and the sooner you consult a truck accident lawyer, the sooner you will be able to do so. A data recording and storage device, or “black box,” is installed in most commercial vehicles, similar to those found on aircraft. The federal government heavily regulates the transportation business.
Government agencies and insurance firms may examine a collision depending on the circumstances. Truck collisions are classified as either avoidable (in which case the driver or carrier may be held accountable) or non-preventable by the FMCSA.
Aside from the truck and its black box, your lawyer will want to maintain any electronic and paper documents that all truckers and motor carriers keep, such as records of:
Inspections along the roadside
Inspections at least once a year
The hiring and training of the truck driver
Daily logs of truckers
Dissatisfaction with the driver
These records aren’t accessible indefinitely since each kind of data has a time restriction for mandated keeping. The following are examples of critical records:
The trucker’s records, such as daily inspection reports. These reports might provide crucial details about the car, the driver, the carrier, the work, and the accident.
Car-related evidence, such as maintenance and repair documents, electronic onboard recorders, GPS data, and the truck itself.
Credentials, job history, driving record, training records, medical exams, drug tests, and a driving log are all evidence regarding the driver.
Documents connected to the trucking firm include employee handbooks, policy documents, company safety records, and out-of-service orders.
Data storage systems may provide you with detailed information on the car and the events leading up to the accident, such as:
The speed of the trucker, or fluctuations in speed
The truck’s transmission shifts
When the trucker slammed on the brakes
The amount of time the trucker was on the road
The GPS position of the truck
The trucker’s and the trucking company’s communication
Evidence Collection and Preservation
There is significantly more evidence accessible in a truck accident than in a car accident in most cases. The important thing is to respond immediately while the evidence is still available.
Begin by obtaining medical help as soon as possible. This is, of course, critical for your health. You may have injuries that have not yet shown themselves as a result of an accident. On the other hand, medical attention is essential for documenting your accident-related injuries and ensuring that all pertinent information about their extent and severity is included in your medical records.
After that, your truck accident attorney might take the following steps:
Request a copy of the accident report from the police.
The accident report is chock-full of useful information. These may contain law enforcement authorities; witness names, contact information, and statements; any penalties issued or arrests made shortly after the collision; and much more.
Letters of Preservation
These letters, also known as spoliation letters, should be sent as quickly as possible—this is something your truck accident lawyer can help you with, and the sooner you employ one, the sooner these letters will be sent. They are official written notifications requiring a party to preserve all relevant evidence connected to a legal claim originating from the accident. It may also specify which evidence should be preserved. In general, the letters advise against tampering with, concealing, or destroying evidence.
Because the trucking firm has access to various documents, data, and information, attorneys often utilize these letters in truck accident lawsuits. Your lawyer should send these letters to any possible defendants or other people who may have crucial material.
Because state and federal transportation rules only require motor carriers to keep records for a set amount of time, send these letters as soon as possible. Federal rules, for example, demand that.
For six months, certain evidence must be kept. Once the record-keeping time limit has elapsed, a preservation letter may prohibit motor carriers from discarding significant data. This letter informs the motor carrier that a case is underway and that all potentially crucial evidence must be preserved.
If the transportation business fails to maintain critical evidence relevant to your claim, it may face legal action as well as additional costs or penalties. If the proof is lost, the preservation letters may show that the corporation was aware of the preservation request.
Locate the truck and secure it.
The insurance company will be on the location right once to inspect, move, and secure the car. You’ll need your specialist to check the car to figure out what occurred.
Return to the Scene of the Accident
Revisiting the accident site may uncover overlooked evidence immediately after the collision, such as tire tread traces, impact debris, or neighboring security cameras that may have captured the accident.
Data stored in electronic form
Almost every commercial semi-truck now comes equipped with a “black box,” or event data recording device. Event data recorders (EDRs) or electronic control modules are other black boxes (ECMs) names. These devices collect and store information on the technical car and occupant details of a car involved in a collision or near-accident.
The following types of information may be recorded:
Inputs from the driver
The car dynamics and system state before the accident.
The signature of a car collision
The usage of restraints and their deployment status
Data collected after a collision
Most EDRs keep track of data for 30 days before re-entering it. On the other hand, older models may have a shorter recording duration length. To prevent any downloading issues that might damage evidence, your attorney may want to engage an expert to be present throughout the download of the electronic material.
The data connected to the accident is the most crucial information from the black boxes. For example, the black box may display the speed upon impact. This data may reveal the speed before contact and specifics about brake actuation, clutch engagement, throttle position, and other factors.
The black box also records a “hard brake” event, when a truck’s brakes are used with more force than usual. This information may contrast with the rest break logs kept by the driver. It also keeps track of the last time the engine was shut off. However, it is critical to guarantee that a truck is not switched on and driven after an accident to maintain the last stop record.
Satellite tracking is another source of electronic data. Today, GPS devices are employed in a variety of ways. They are often installed by trucking businesses to maintain track of their fleets of cars and increase productivity.
The journey route, the driver’s destination, how long he had been driving that day, and how long he had driven the day before are all crucial pieces of information to have when recreating the events leading up to the tragedy.
Lawyers often combine GPS tracking data with additional evidence to show carelessness even more firmly, such as mobile phone records or video camera footage. For example, data showing that a motorist was distracted by a mobile phone call at the time of the accident might be used as evidence. This information may be obtained from various sources, including the truck’s internet navigation system, corporate records, and the satellite firm itself.
According to federal requirements, drivers must maintain precise accounts of how much time they spend on the road, whether driving or resting. The dispatch logs will disclose a lot about the travel and the task. Perhaps the driver was sent to a task that required him to exceed the driving time limitations. Phone records may demonstrate if the motorist was using his or her phone at the accident, which contradicts driver logs.
Ensure the security of all documents.
The paperwork will rapidly mount up. Most individuals find it simplest to put all of their documents in one area, such as a storage bin or a huge binder, but make sure it’s secure whatever you do. You may want to make a backup record by scanning each item and converting it to an electronic file. This makes things more accessible and valuable if the physical copies are lost or destroyed.
Seek the advice of a seasoned Colorado truck accident attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, please call Warrior Trucking Accident Attorneys to schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential personal injury claim. Our experienced attorneys have years of experience ensuring that clients obtain the compensation they are entitled to from those responsible for their losses.
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1902 W. Colorado Ave., Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80904