The aftermath of a truck accident can seem overwhelming, understandably so. Many truck accidents result in catastrophic or fatal injuries for passenger vehicle occupants. In such a situation, victims may feel unable to gather all the evidence they need to win their case. This is why it’s vital to contact an experienced personal injury as soon as possible so they can take the matter out of your hands.
Learn five key pieces of evidence to gather after a truck accident to strengthen your claim.
Truck accidents are often disastrous for passenger vehicle occupants. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 16% of these truck accident fatalities are truck occupants, 67% are passenger vehicle occupants, and 15% are pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. So, it is often those outside the truck that face the greatest risk to life and limb in a truck accident.
Why, exactly, does this happen? The answer lies simply in the fact that passenger vehicles are no match for a fully loaded tractor-trailer, particularly one traveling at fast speeds on the highway.
While there may not be anything you can do to prevent every truck accident, there are steps you can take in the wake of a crash to protect your rights and strengthen your accident claim down the line.
Most trucking companies are protected from facing any potential consequences for their negligence by high-powered defense attorneys and large insurance companies. However, with the right legal team on your side, you can gather everything you need to have a strong case for recovering compensation.
The evidence your attorney should gather after a truck accident includes:
Many trucks are now equipped with Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) that record data about a truck’s trip, much how a Flight Data Recorder records data from an airplane’s flight. Gathering the ECM is vital to demonstrating whether the trucker traveled too fast for conditions at the time of the accident, failed to apply the brakes when necessary, or committed some other error that led to the crash. Additionally, the ECM may provide information as to whether a malfunction in the truck contributed to the accident.
In addition to ECMs, many trucks are now equipped with electronic logbooks, as opposed to paper logbooks of the past. These electronic logbooks track when a trucker drives and when they take a break automatically.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented hours-of-service regulations that limit the number of hours a trucker may drive without a break. Because data is recorded into the electronic logbooks automatically, there is very little chance of fraudulent entries. Therefore, the electronic logbooks can provide insight into whether the trucker actually did stop and take a break per federal mandates.
If it can be shown, through the electronic logbooks, that a trucker did not take a break when they were supposed to, it may provide evidence that they were drowsy when they crashed into another vehicle.
Video evidence is key. Cameras located inside the truck’s driver bay can provide insight as to whether the trucker was drowsy at the time of the crash, or ingested drugs or alcohol while driving. Either situation would make the trucker liable for the accident, as well as their employer via the legal principle of “respondeat superior,” which holds an employer vicariously liable for their employees’ negligence.
Trucks must be routinely inspected and serviced in order to remain in safe working condition. If trucking companies do not service their vehicles regularly, it may cause a malfunction on the road and a subsequent crash. Looking at the trucking company’s service logs can determine whether the trucks in their fleet were serviced according to schedule, or whether the trucking company failed in this key duty.
Sometimes, witness statements can be key to proving a case. If two or more witnesses observed the same thing about a truck driver or the truck itself in the lead-up to the crash, this may provide supporting evidence that something wrong with either the trucker or the truck caused the crash.
Gathering all this evidence is not the only thing you must do to protect your rights. Often, these trucking companies have experienced defense teams whose expertise can only be matched by a qualified personal injury law firm. With the help of the right legal team, you may be able to recover the following damages after a truck accident:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Our team at DiPasquale Moore has what it takes to take on large trucking companies and their insurers and help you get the funds you need to recover. We have a strong track record of success in cases like these, and we’re here to help you through this.