Truck Accident Law: Evidence Following a Commercial Truck Accident
If you or a family member has been injured by a tractor trailer, semi-truck, rig or other large commercial vehicle or truck as a result of driver negligence, evidence documenting the details of the accident can be critical in proving liability. In many cases, a truck accident claim requires more investigation than a standard motor vehicle collision case.
The commercial trucking industry is tightly regulated, in large part to prevent unsafe driving conditions that may increase the chances of a major collision. Evidence that shows how closely a driver or trucking company was following those regulations at the time of an accident can come from many places, particularly with the aid of today’s electronic technologies like GPS and cell phones.
In addition, many commercial vehicles are outfitted with onboard cameras, and drivers are often required to record their driving hours and rest stops along with truck inspections that take place before, during, and after a trip. It is important to obtain any evidence immediately or inform the trucking company in writing to preserve it.
Because of this, we would encourage you to hire an attorney as quickly as possible after an accident to be able to successfully investigate and collect evidence.
Check for Logbooks and Delivery Records
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety laws regulate the number of consecutive hours a commercial truck driver can spend on the road and the number and duration of rests in between. They also dictate how often a truck must be inspected to ensure it meets quality standards. To prove that they weren’t violating these or other regulations, drivers are expected to keep detailed records of their activities during work hours.
In the event of a collision, it is important for you and your attorney to obtain any existing logbooks, inspection reports, or delivery records as soon as possible. If you are unable to get copies at the scene of the crash, send a written request to the trucking company to preserve them. These materials can be instrumental in proving time, place, and any regulatory violations in a case.
Inquire About Data Recorders and Onboard Cameras
When it comes to evidence that might prove a driver was engaging in dangerous behavior at the time of the collision, modern technology often provides extremely reliable information. Most commercial trucks manufactured in the last two decades contain a data recorder commonly referred to as a “black box.” This module stores data about how the truck was being operated at the time immediately before and during an accident. It can reveal whether the brakes were applied or how fast the vehicle was moving, which your attorney can then use to demonstrate potential traffic law violations or reckless driving.
Nowadays, it’s also highly possible to obtain visual footage of the truck and its driver in the moments surrounding a crash. Many commercial trucking companies now install cameras inside the trucks in their fleet to record both the road in front of the vehicle and the driver inside the cab.
Consider all the ways these recordings could be instrumental in a lawsuit: If a driver was texting or holding a cell phone while operating the truck or dozing off behind the wheel, the camera will capture that. Or if he or she was driving aggressively or tailgating and it led to a collision, the recording will offer visual evidence of any negligent behavior.
These forms of evidence can form the backbone of a commercial trucking accident case, so make obtaining them a priority as soon as you are able.
Vinas and Deluca has significant experience representing clients who have been injured by commercial vehicles. If you or someone you love has been in an accident and is in need of representation, give us a call today.