A big rig slammed into you on a California highway, and now you’re reeling from the impact of the crash. When the dust settles, now’s your only chance to gather crucial evidence before it’s lost forever.
So what types of evidence are commonly gathered in trucking accidents? Specifically, how does this evidence differ from a regular car accident?
These are great questions people often ask us here at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. When you’re in a catastrophic truck crash, it can be hard to know what kind of evidence you’ll need to go up against a big trucking company and win your case.
Don’t Miss Any Evidence of Trucking Violations
Truck accidents are usually much more severe and complex than regular car accidents. And when it comes to gathering evidence, you’ll have a lot more to do after a truck accident.
First, your main goal should be to collect evidence that shows a violation of a federal or state safety regulation — a step you don’t have to take in a regular car accident. Truck accident evidence can typically be divided into two main categories: related to the driver and related to the trucking company.
Gather as much information about the driver as possible and do it as soon as possible. Request their training file and personal qualifications for truck driving. This provides vital information such as prior accidents, tickets, their driving record, any incident reports, background checks, drug and alcohol testing, and their safety performance.
Also, request the driver’s logbook from the trucking company, which is a window into history that shows how many hours of service they’ve had on a single shift and their total miles driven. It will also show you if they violated any of the rules about driving for too long or not taking enough time off in between their shifts.
There might also be an electronic logging device that will show GPS tracking, time behind the wheel, and other data points you can use in your case. Your lawyer can help you demand this from the trucking company.
Another piece of evidence you’ll need is the driver’s inspection report. Truck drivers are required to do a pre- and post-driving inspection of their vehicles and record everything that they find. You’ll also need a drug and alcohol test for the truck driver.
Seek Evidence Relating to the Truck Itself
Whenever there’s a trucking accident, the vehicle must be inspected by a certified inspector before it leaves the accident scene. You need their accident report in addition to the police report with the details of your accident. These reports will be full of helpful information that could bolster your case.
Another key piece of truck-related black box information. This shows the truck’s traveling speed before the accident, whether and how long the brakes were applied, whether the turn signals or the flashers were used, and how long the driver was behind the wheel without taking a break.
Black box information isn’t usually available in a regular car accident. In this way, you’re lucky the accident was with a trucker who’s required to maintain much more extensive records of their driving behavior.
You and your lawyer can also review the trucking company’s maintenance records to see if they failed to do proper maintenance or neglected something important during an inspection. Look closely at the details of these records and consider what they mean from many different angles.
Finally, establish whether the truck’s load or cargo somehow played a role. If the truck was carrying a heavy, unstable load, perhaps it shifted and set off the accident. If it was carrying corrosive chemicals, perhaps a flaw in the tank allowed a spill that triggered the crash.
To reveal details like these, request the truck’s bills of lading, weight tickets, reports from weigh stations, dispatch instructions, and documents that show the deliveries they were making. You may discover something that strongly supports your case.
Here’s the bottom line. A truck accident leaves you with a narrow window for evidence-gathering. Let’s do a free and confidential consultation as soon as possible and start securing the evidence you need to make a successful accident case.
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After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of personal injury claims, including truck accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.
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What evidence is commonly gathered in trucking accidents? Specifically, how does it differ from a regular car accident?
In a trucking accident, your main goal is to collect evidence that shows a violation of a federal or state safety regulation by either the driver or the motor carrier itself. Evidence can typically be categorized into a couple of different main categories and the first one is evidence pertaining to the driver.
So anytime you have an accident, you’re going to want to request as much information on the driver themselves as possible. The first thing you’re going to want to get is their personnel qualification and training file. This is going to show you a lot of information such as prior accidents, tickets, their driving record, any incident reports, background checks, drug and alcohol testing, safety performance. All that stuff is going to be in their file, the employee’s file, and you want to get that as soon as possible.
You’re also going to want to get the driver’s log book, which will show how many hours of service they’ve been in one shift and will also show you if they violated any of the rules about driving for too long or not taking enough time off in between their shifts. The log book will also show you miles traveled and there might also be an electronic logging device that will show GPS tracking, time behind the wheel, all of that good stuff.
The last thing from the driver, two more things is the drivers inspection report. The drivers are required to do a pre and after inspection of their vehicles and to record everything that they find. So, they’ll definitely want to get a copy of that as well. And finally, you’re going to want to get the post accident drug and alcohol test for the driver.
The next category of evidence is evidence relating to the vehicle itself. So for this, you’re going to want to get the truck inspection report. Anytime there’s a trucking accident, the vehicle has to be inspected by a certified inspector before it leaves the accident scene. So you’re definitely going to want to request this. This is in addition to the regular police report, so make sure you’re looking for that too.
The next thing is black box information. So this is going to show you vehicle speed before the accident; how long the brakes were applied, if they were applied; whether the turn signals or the flashers were used and also again, how long the driver was driving behind the wheel without taking a break.
Next, you’re going to want to ask for maintenance schedule and records of the vehicle itself, to see if there’s any things that are weird with the vehicle, things that the company did not take care of during an inspection, or things that might’ve been overlooked. And you’re going to want to look for those vehicle inspection reports that are by the company and also by the driver, in there before and after the accident. So make sure you’re getting that stuff from all different angles.
The final category of evidence is evidence pertaining to the load and the cargo. So for this stuff, when you have a trucking accident that had a big load on the back, or maybe the cargo fell off and caused the accident, you’re going to want to look for things like the bills of lading, weight tickets and report from the weigh stations, dispatch instructions and also any delivery documents that you might have.