A truck accident is much different from a passenger car crash because of the sheer weight and size of the truck, the more serious injuries and deaths, and the federal rules governing truck drivers and trucking companies. If you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent trucker, you will need proof to hold the driver and his employer liable for compensating you. A crucial step in ensuring that you obtain the evidence you need is to retain an attorney immediately after your wreck to send the trucking company a spoliation letter. This is a letter advising the trucking company that an accident occurred, that you have a potential claim, and that certain information should not be destroyed by the trucking company that could help you prove your case.
What Types Of Evidence Could You Need To Prove The Truck Driver’s Negligence In Causing Your Injuries?
Some of the evidence that can help your claim is the same as you would need in a passenger vehicle accident. For example, pictures of the crash scene and the damaged vehicles can help establish the trucker’s negligence. The police report can be persuasive if the officer concluded that the trucker violated traffic laws and issued a citation. Evidence unique to truck crashes includes the following:
- Black box recorders. Many trucks are equipped with black box recorders that record the truck’s speed, braking patterns, driver identification, and fuel consumption. They also record the number of hours the trucker was driving—critical to proving he was violating FMCSA regulations for hours of service. In addition, the recorder will provide data on the time between impacts and whether the truck’s airbag was deployed.
- Truck camera. The truck’s camera can be helpful in showing that the trucker was engaged in distracted driving, such as eating and drinking, talking on a cellphone, or texting. It can also show if he was engaging in other reckless behaviors. However, this footage could get taped over or destroyed unless you hire an attorney right away to send a spoliation letter.
- Drug and alcohol screening results. Under FMSCA regulations, a trucker must undergo drug and alcohol screening after a truck accident that caused anyone’s injuries or death. This information could establish that the truck driver was drunk or drowsy at the time of your crash.
- Driver logs. Truckers must keep detailed logs of their driving and resting hours and their pre-trip and post-trip inspections of the truck for maintenance issues. This can be another way to show that the trucker was driving too long without a break or that the truck was being driven with maintenance problems that could have caused your wreck.
- Internal records. The trucking company is required to keep many records regarding the condition of the truck and the truck driver. Some of these include truck inspection records, maintenance records, trucker’s driving and accident history, his medical certification, training procedures, and much more. This information can also be helpful to show that the trucking company was also at fault, such as in negligently hiring or retaining the trucker.
- NTSB investigation. If the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an investigation of your crash, it could provide a wealth of information regarding who caused it. However, you would need the assistance of an attorney to obtain this information.
- Accident reconstruction expert. If the trucker and trucking company’s liability is disputed, your attorney may decide to hire an accident reconstruction expert. This expert can use information, such as pictures, police recorder, black box recorder, and other information your attorney obtains to recreate the accident and show that the truck driver caused it.
- Eye witnesses. Third party witnesses who saw your accident can testify as to how it occurred. Especially if they are neutral parties with no relationship to you or the truck driver, their corroboration of what happened can be powerful evidence in your case.
An experienced truck accident attorney will know what documents he wants preserved depending on the specific facts of your case and what he determines you need to prove to establish the truck driver’s negligence. If you were injured in a truck wreck, contact us, start an online chat or call our office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to have your questions answered and learn about your legal options.