Evidence That Should be Collected to Win a Truck Accident Case
Trucking companies and even owner-operators are covered under commercial liability policies with limits higher than automobile insurance policies. The insurance company for the truck driver and the motor carrier are sophisticated in defending commercial vehicle accidents effectively.
Understanding which evidence may be available and how it could affect a trucking case along with an early investigation is critical to a successful truck accident claim.
The Most Important Evidence.
Without a doubt, the most vital evidence in a personal injury claim stemming from a truck crash is evidence which shows a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations by either the driver or the motor carrier. Some of the most common violations of the safety regulations are companies allowing drivers to drive over the permitted hours of service, and truck drivers cheating on logbooks.
Digital Log Books and Tracking Data
The move toward digital logbooks was a good step for safety on America's highways. It was not uncommon for truck drivers to keep a false logbook to work hours most convenient to them and without regard to the safety rules. While the move toward computer data has made it more difficult to cheat on logbooks, drivers and unscrupulous companies still can skirt the rules.
Many avenues for discovering logbook violations are not shown in the official books. Most of these involve trucking the location of the truck or the driver via cell phone records or GPS service related to the vehicles.
Black Box or the Computer Information
Accident specific data comes in a download from the tractor itself which provides vital information such as the speed of the big rig before the accident, breaking activity, and such information whether or not turn signals and flashers were used. Computer data should be obtained in cases quickly after the wreck. Not all commercial trucks contain computer data available for download. However, most more recent model years provide a wealth of critical information for attorneys.
Some of the larger trucking companies or garbage trucks contain in-cab video cameras that show how accidents occur without fudge factor. Having a video camera showing the truck drivers actions and also the activities of the other vehicle can make or break a case. Motor carriers particularly the larger ones favor the use of video as a safety training and enforcement measure. As often as not, the evidence may show the accident was the fault of the other driver and not the trucker.
Further video may be available by businesses or homes near the crash site from a surveillance video. Making sure that you have all video evidence is necessary for truck crashes with a severe injury or losing life.
Inspection of the 18-Wheeler
Inspecting the tractor and trailer after a collision will reveal the condition of the rig safety wise. Sometimes, the accident or the injuries can be attributable to a defective rig or improper maintenance procedures. Trucking companies must maintain their vehicles and safe operating conditions in compliance with safety rules. Truck drivers must inspect the vehicle daily and report all deficiencies to the company.
In rear-end truck accidents, often the braking capacity of the truck are examined. Improperly maintained brakes hurt the stopping distance of big rigs. Likewise, the condition of tires and even how the loads were secured can be essential sometimes. The inspection of the truck should occur before the trucking company puts the rig back in service.
Evidence about the Driver
Background information should be always obtained on the driver in which there is a severe injury or loss of a loved one. Prior accidents, drug use, DWIs, criminal records or other tickets may become meaningful evidence of the driver's truthfulness or qualifications to be a professional driver.
The trucking company must maintain a driver file showing the qualifications of the professional driver to have been met. The driver qualification file must include things like prior accidents, incident reports and the background check necessary for the company to hire the driver.
Choosing the Right Attorney
Trucking companies and their insurers frequently have quick response teams at the scene of a severe accident within hours of notification. These teams include lawyers, experts, and investigators with experience in finding evidence that the insurance company’s lawyers can use to shift responsibility for the accident off the driver and onto others. The truck drivers are instructed to call immediately after a crash. It is the rare situation where the victim of the accident is not starting from behind from the beginning.
Persons injured in a trucking accident or families who have lost a loved one should research attorneys soon after the crash. Research should include more than the claims of the attorney on their website and should consist of what other attorneys in the community know about the individual you are considering. Ranking agencies might have a financial interest with those that they rate. Consumers should look for peer review ratings and disregard critical sounding awards based solely upon money paid to the entity.
Online reviews can be helpful information and should be scrutinized before relying upon the data. If an attorney has hundreds of reviews, one would have to consider whether the attorney runs a "mill practice" which settles cases quickly and cheaply or whether the reviews may not be on the up and up.
Spending time researching the truck accident attorney you are considering before hiring that lawyer must be done to make the best outcome from your case. If you hire an attorney without doing your homework, you may find you have retained the wrong lawyer and changing horses during the race complicates the case.
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