Investigating Truck Accident Evidence is Integral to Proving Liability
Truck accidents are among the most devastating kind of accidents that someone can ever encounter. They have the highest fatality and damage rate out of any other kind of automobile accident there is. The damage and injuries sustained from truck accidents have a way of putting its participants out of commission for the immediate aftermath, should they survive the ordeal.
Fortunately, if the liability lies with the truck company, then there is a potentially large settlement that can be obtained from a personal injury claim. In order to secure compensation from a truck accident personal injury claim, there must be an investigation into whether the trucking company was negligent in a way that caused the accident.
Truck Accident Investigation
The gathering of evidence through an investigation is integral to the success of a truck accident personal injury case. With a possible claimant injured and out of commission, trucking companies have a head start in setting up for a possible personal injury claim and having a convenient misfiling of any documents implicating them of negligence. Sometimes evidence will even simply not be recorded due to negligence on a trucking companies part.
Most documents that would be relevant to an investigation of a truck accident don’t have to be kept on file for as long as one would hope. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) require trucking companies to maintain 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.
- The Accident and Driver Reports
- Driver Logs
- Witness Statements
- Tire or Gouge Marks in the Road
- Accident Scene Photos
- The Trucker’s qualifications
- The Trucker’s Driving Record
- The Trucker’s Medical History
- Truck Inspection Reports
- Data from Electronic Onboard Recording Devices (EOBRs)
- Cell Phone Records
- Truck Company Compliance History
- The Truck Wreckage
Getting Truck Accident Evidence
Send a Spoliation Letter
A spoliation letter is a formal demand that any evidence relevant to an accident be stored and preserved for a case. When a spoliation letter is sent to an insurance company or the trucking company, it can specify exactly what evidence must be properly preserved.
While there may be some possible evidence that may be left out since it’s impossible to know about all of it, trucking companies are required to maintain extensive documentation on the truck and driver involved in the accident. Evidence that can possibly be listed for preservation within a spoliation letter include:
- truck inspection reports
- driver logs
- accident scene photos
- data from electronic onboard recording devices (EOBRs)
Don’t Let the Truck Wreckage get Repaired
A strategy that trucking companies will use, is they will try to get their hands on a truck involved in an accident as soon as possible so that it can be repaired up to regulation standard. If there was any was any evidence that the company was negligent in making sure the truck’s maintenance was up to regulation standards, then it would be lost. Get the truck checked as soon as possible for this evidence since negligent maintenance standards are an enormous way to prove liability.
Examine Any Available Documentation
- The driver’s log can tell you when a truck was last inspected and whether or not a trucker was compliant with hours-of-service regulations. Cross-checking those details with the EOBR data can show if the driver’s logs have been tampered with.
- Cell Phone records can tell you if driver distraction may have played a role in a truck wreck.
- EOBR data can also uncover whether speeding or truck equipment failure may have contributed to a crash.
- GPS systems can give information on the direction and speed of travel in addition to location
- Drivecam footage can be invaluable if it is available since it provides video evidence of the events that transpired from the truck’s perspective.
- Accident reports filed by the officer arriving on the scene should give extensive information on the time the accident occurred,the time that police were called, weather conditions, Identities and testimonies of eye witnesses, and whether the officer suspected the involvement of drug or alcohol intoxication.
Check the trucker’s medical history, qualifications, and driving records
Investigating this documentation can determine whether the trucker was properly trained and certified for the vehicle they were driving. You can also find out if they have a history of infractions against trucking regulations, traffic violations, or even previous accidents. By checking a trucker’s medical records you can see if they have any kinds of medical conditions that may have impaired their driving skills and caused an accident.
Check the Trucking Company’s Records
If a trucking company has any history of being negligent of any way that was caught in a personal injury case, it will likely be documented. They could have a history of noncompliance with state or federal trucking regulations or they could have previously hired unqualified drivers. Trucking companies also should have a record of how many of their drivers have been involved in accidents.
Witness testimonies help a great deal in determining who is at fault for a truck accident. They can be a bit more difficult to gather since most involved in truck accidents are too injured to get them from the scene. Fortunately, police and investigators will usually attempt to gather witness testimonies. Their own testimonies may also prove useful if they can be secured.
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about meeting for a free consultation about your possible personal injury claim. Our skilled lawyers have years of experience in ensuring that clients receive the settlements they deserve from those responsible for damages.
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