Accidents involving 18-wheelers can be complicated. These vehicles have become highly specialized in recent years, and drivers are supposed to go through proper training before being allowed to operate them on public roads. One such requirement is obtaining a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). In certain circumstances, special endorsements are required, such as for those who drive trucks with double trailers, triple trailers, tanks, trucks carrying hazardous materials, and passenger vehicles. Elevated standards are in place for commercial truck drivers because accidents involving them can produce catastrophic injuries like paralysis, brain trauma, spinal cord damage, and permanent scarring.
Big trucking companies know how much is at stake following a catastrophic accident. They are known to expend significant resources into defending such claims from the outset. If a victim cannot obtain the proof needed to establish liability, that person may end up uncompensated for medical bills, time off from work, and the cost of future surgeries and medical treatment. Thus, it is critical to conduct a thorough investigation.
Of course, the facts of a truck accident itself should be examined by obtaining the police report and reaching out to independent witnesses. However, it is necessary to dig deeper, and hiring an experienced truck accident attorney can go a long way in ensuring critical information is uncovered and identified. The following information could be revealed through an investigation and prove useful during the case:
Physical evidence from the truck and crash scene – A heavy-impact accident could cause disabling damage that requires the big rig to be towed to a local wrecking yard. After the accident, the trucking company could track down the vehicle and immediately pay to have it moved somewhere else or taken out of commission. Before too much time passes, an attorney working on your behalf can send an investigator to inspect the vehicle and take necessary photos or measurements. The same can be said for the accident scene. An accident reconstruction expert can visit the scene, document the scene, take measurements, and look for skid marks and other physical evidence.
Driver logs – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires interstate truck drivers to log their driving time via 49 CFR § 395.8. Drivers must list all stops made on their routes on a given trip. New laws allow this to be done electronically. Hours of service rules are in place to prevent truck driver fatigue, and analyzing a driver’s log could show that those rules were disregarded.
Personnel files – Trucking companies must maintain adequate records regarding employees hired. It is not difficult to imagine that some companies are more organized than others. A lawyer who gets involved in a case can immediately send a spoliation of evidence letter requesting that certain information be preserved, including the trucker’s application for employment, CDL, background check results from the hiring phase, complaint history, and mandatory drug and alcohol testing results.
Computer data from the truck – Most refer to this as the truck’s “black box,” and most 18-wheelers will contain a “black box” or Electronic Control Module (ECM). This technology records data immediately before and during an accident. Time is of the essence in downloading and reviewing this data, as the time to conduct this inspection is before the truck is repaired or driven again. A qualified trucking expert can download this data and learn critical information about the truck’s speed, braking, and other contributing factors to the collision.
By thoroughly investigating an accident, you give yourself a much greater chance to recover full compensation for your vehicle damages and bodily injuries. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz is a large regional personal injury law firm. We have fought for victims injured in trucking accidents for more than 25 years and recognize how the foundation for a case is laid at the beginning through conducting a proper investigation. For a free consultation on your case with a truck accident lawyer, call 800-529-4004 or complete our online form. We represent clients injured throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kentucky.