Road accidents are an unfortunate daily occurrence. Frequently, accidents involving trucks result in more severe consequences compared to other types of vehicular collisions. You've likely heard numerous such stories on the news. However, personally experiencing such an incident is an entirely different matter.
If you've been in an accident, it's normal to feel panic and shock. Yet, it's critical to act quickly to gather evidence to substantiate your claim for damages. Time is of the essence in accident cases. Swift action is required, as proof and records can be destroyed, altered, or rendered invalid.
After an accident, a police report is typically compiled. However, to strengthen your case, you may require additional evidence. Collaborating with a personal injury lawyer specializing in truck accidents can be advantageous, as they can help amass significant documentation to bolster your case. They can also draft a letter demanding the preservation of all evidence pertinent to your case.
The initial objective is to establish liability. It's crucial to demonstrate the negligence of the driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, or the mechanic in order to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Below are the types of evidence that your attorney can assist you in gathering and preserving to enhance your chances of success in a commercial truck accident case.
1. Photographs and Videos
In the aftermath of an accident, capturing photos and videos of the incident can prove beneficial. Make sure to document the damage to both the truck and your vehicle from various angles. Additionally, record the surroundings, particularly any skid marks, broken signs, posts, or barriers resulting from the accident. It can also be useful to capture the weather conditions at the time.
Your attorney can also secure other relevant media to help establish liability. For instance, a West Virginia truck accident lawyer can assist you in obtaining footage from any cameras installed on the truck. Some trucks may have cameras recording the road or the interior of the vehicle. These video clips can help determine whether the driver took necessary evasive actions or was distracted while driving.
Moreover, to claim damages, it's wise to photograph your injuries, such as bruises, wounds, and other physical harm, to support your case.
2. Driver's Information
After the incident, obtain the driver's name, contact information, and license plate number. You should also note their insurance company. Photographing important documents can expedite the collection of details and minimize errors.
Beyond this information, your attorney can also obtain the driver's training records and personal qualifications. Additional documentation, like previous accident history, driving records, incident reports, and drug and alcohol testing results, can be requested to further evaluate whether the driver was qualified to operate a truck or if negligence was involved.
An accident attorney can also review the driver's inspection report, a document that truck drivers must maintain in accordance with Federal Motor Carrier Inspection Report regulations.
3. Witness and Expert Witness Testimonies
Individuals who witnessed the incident can provide statements recounting what transpired. It's important to record their names and contact details for future reference.
In addition to eyewitness accounts, your lawyer may engage expert witnesses or accident reconstructionists. These professionals can analyze the accident using scientific and engineering principles based on the information and witness testimonies you provide. Their involvement can significantly bolster your evidence.
Driver fatigue is a common cause of truck accidents. As such, drivers are required to maintain a logbook to verify they're not exceeding their permissible service hours. Your attorney can also examine receipts to confirm whether the driver took the necessary breaks. If it can be demonstrated that mandated rest periods were ignored, either the driver or the trucking company could be held accountable for the accident.
In some cases, companies pressure drivers to work beyond the allowed hours to meet deadlines. If this situation arises, the company, rather than the driver, bears the liability.
5. Black Box Data
Trucks are equipped with black boxes or event data recorders, which retain recordings for 30 days. It's, therefore, crucial to retrieve this data promptly.
The black box yields vital information such as the truck's speed, whether the brakes were applied or were faulty, and whether turn signals or flashers were used. It also records the duration of the driver's shifts without breaks.
6. Maintenance Records
Trucks must undergo routine maintenance checks to confirm they're roadworthy. Your attorney can scrutinize the maintenance records to detect any failures to conduct inspections, unreported or unresolved defects, or the use of defective replacement parts.
7. Driver’s Phone Records and Emails
It's not uncommon for drivers to use their phones for calls, texts, or social media. As such, the driver's phone records can be reviewed to determine if they were distracted while driving.
The driver’s emails may also be examined to uncover evidence of company coercion to drive beyond the stipulated service hours.
Truck accidents can happen to anyone. When they occur, knowing what steps to take can significantly increase your chances of winning your case and receiving just compensation for the injuries sustained in the accident.
Bear in mind: To secure damages, you must demonstrate the other party's negligence. Thus, act swiftly to gather valid evidence to substantiate your claims. Engage the services of a truck accident attorney to help you compile and safeguard substantial evidence, including driver’s data, black box information, and maintenance records, thereby enhancing your prospects of a favorable outcome.