Common Truck Accident Questions for Drivers in Georgia and South Carolina
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How can the truck’s black box help in my truck accident case?
When you file a claim for compensation following a truck accident caused by the trucker and trucking company, you must prove their liability in causing the wreck and your injuries. You do this through the use of evidence that shows their negligence and the seriousness of your injuries. Witness statements, pictures, the police report, and expert testimony are a few of the types of evidence that can be helpful in any vehicle accident.
However, truck accident claims are different from those involving passenger vehicles due to the size and weight of the truck and the many federal regulations that govern truckers and trucking companies. Because of this, you may need additional evidence to prove your right to compensation in a truck crash. The truck’s black box can be an important piece of evidence that can strengthen your claim—and result in you receiving more in settlement.
What Is the Truck’s Black Box?
A black box is also known as the event data recorder (EDR) and has been installed in most trucks since the 1990s. Surprisingly, these devices were installed in trucks for an entirely different purpose by truck manufacturers—to stop fraudulent warranty claims by trucking companies. The black box is comprised of sensors and other components that are integrated with the truck’s engine. It collects data about the truck’s operation—which can be helpful in showing what happened at the time of your crash.
What Data Does the EDR Collect?
The black box contains crucial information regarding the truck’s trip, its performance, and the moments leading up to the crash. Most black boxes collect data for a period of thirty days. Here are some of the ways that the truck’s black box data could help in your case:
- Speed. The EDR will record the truck’s average speed over the course of the last 30 days and information about how fast the truck was traveling at specific times. This could help you show that the trucker was driving too fast at the time of your collision.
- Hours driven. The black box records information regarding the hours that the truck is moving—which can help establish the true number of hours the trucker drove before taking a break. You could use this evidence to show that truck driver fatigue and violation of federal hours of service regulations were the cause of your wreck.
- Performance and maintenance. You can learn a wealth of information about the truck’s performance and whether it was properly maintained from the truck’s black box. This can include the engine’s RPM, brake applications, hard stops, seat belt usage, and more.
- Accident information. Your truck accident will be considered an event to be recorded by the truck’s black box. It will provide you with the truck’s speed at the time of your crash, when the trucker applied the brakes, and the force of the impact during your collision. An accident reconstruction expert could use this information with other evidence to recreate the cause of your wreck.
- Emails. The black box will store emails between the trucker and trucking company. This can provide you with communications regarding truck maintenance, truck driver fatigue or violation of hours of service rules, and statements by the trucker to the company soon after your accident.
Contact Our Office Today for Help With Your Truck Accident Claim
The black box data could be recorded over after 30 days or the trucking company may destroy it following the accident. Because of this, you need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your wreck. He can send the trucking company a spoliation letter advising them of your claim and ordering them not to destroy any evidence. If your attorney believes the trucking company will not cooperate with this request, he can file a lawsuit and ask the judge to issue an immediate order prohibiting the trucking company from destroying this evidence.
Was your truck accident more than 30 days ago? This does not necessarily mean the black box data has been destroyed or taped over. The trucking company may have downloaded the data before this occurred.
At Chris Hudson & Associates, our experienced truck accident attorneys have years of experience vigorously investigating the causes our clients’ truck wrecks and fighting for the compensation that our clients deserved. To learn about your legal options and how we can help, contact us online or call us directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule a free consultation.
What evidence can I use to prove the truck driver’s fault in my truck accident?
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.
What is my truck accident case worth?
We understand that you are looking for a number. You want to know how much money you can recover after you’ve been hurt in a truck crash. However, the value of every truck accident case is unique and dependent upon the specific facts of the case. Accordingly, we can’t give you an accurate estimate of the value of your case without speaking to you directly and learning more about your claim.
Instead, what we can do is tell you what kinds of damages are available, what factors may affect your fair recovery, and how to contact us for a free and confidential consultation.
Types of Damages You Can Recover After a Truck Accident Injury
If you have been injured in a truck accident that was caused by the trucker, the trucking company, or another party, you may be able to recover compensation for your past, current and future:
- Medical expenses. Medical expenses include all of the costs related to your healthcare. This could include, but is not limited to: ambulance fees, hospital stays, surgeries, doctors’ visits, medications, rehabilitation therapies, and assistive medical devices.
- Lost income. Whether you experience a complete loss of income or your income has gone down because you are no longer able to work the same job or the same hours you did prior to the crash, you can recover for your loss. Lost income should include your wages, benefits, or money that you earned from being self-employed.
- Out-of-pocket costs. Some truck accident victims have significant out-of-pocket costs for things such as property damage, alternative transportation costs, childcare, and household help.
- Pain and suffering. Your physical pain and emotional suffering may be your greatest costs and they are compensable in a truck accident case.
However, before you can recover any of these damages, you will need to take action. You will need to contact an attorney, negotiate with the insurance company, and be prepared to take your case to court.
Factors That May Impact Your Recovery
The value of your damages may be disputed. The insurance company or defendant will likely argue that you should recover less compensation than you deserve. Accordingly, the specific amount that you recover will either need to be negotiated with the insurance company or decided in court. Some of the factors that will influence the amount of your recovery include:
- The quality of the available evidence. In order to recover damages, you will need to prove two things. First, you will need to prove that the defendant is legally responsible for the crash and, thus, legally responsible for paying your damages. Second, you will need to prove the value of your damages. In order to prove both of these things, you will need evidence. Evidence may include photos from the accident scene, deposition testimony, expert witness testimony, medical records, and other things. The stronger your evidence, the more likely you are to make a fair recovery.
- Whether you were partly to blame for the crash. Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence system of recovery. That means that you may still recover damages if you were partly to blame for the crash as long as you were less than 50% responsible for the accident. Your damages may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to you.
- How well you, or your attorney, advocate for your recovery. You, or your attorney, will need to convince the insurance company or court of the other party’s liability and of the value of your damages. This means knowing how to use the evidence to make strong and convincing legal arguments so that a favorable settlement or verdict can be reached.
These factors may increase or decrease your recovery, and should always be considered when estimating the value of your lawsuit.
Get the Answers You Need Before You File a Lawsuit
Before you file a truck accident case, you will probably want to do a cost benefit analysis. You will want to know what your potential recovery is before you decide whether or not to file a claim. We can help you make that decision by providing you with personalized information based on the unique facts of your case. Please start a live chat with us now to schedule your free consultation and we will help you get the answers you need and the recovery you deserve.
I was in an accident with a truck carrying hazardous materials. What should I do now?
The commercial transportation industry—from land to air to sea—is heavily regulated. When it comes to transporting hazardous goods and materials, the regulations become even stricter. This is simply due to the added risk of carrying dangerous cargo, both to the operator and those who will come in contact with the carrier.
When cargo ships or aircraft carry hazardous material, the people who will be in the vicinity of the goods are most likely properly trained to handle and transport such materials. Trucks, however, share the road with many private motorists, which can expose these innocent people to risks if the proper precautions are not taken.
The Responsibility of Being a Hazmat Carrier
When you are driving next to a truck carrying hazardous material, it could be carrying one of several different hazardous substances:
- Flammable or explosive material
- Corrosive material
- Radioactive material
- Poisonous or infectious material
In order to transport hazardous material, federal and state regulations require that the driver must be properly endorsed and trained, the truck must past rigorous inspections and be properly marked, and those who handle the cargo during the loading and unloading phase must be carefully trained in proper procedures.
After an accident with a truck carrying hazardous material, you could face serious injury and medical complications, even if you did not suffer direct damage in the crash. Exposure to hazardous materials requires immediate medical attention, and you could face years of pain and suffering as a result.
While even the most careful and compliant truck drivers can be involved in accidents, many accidents involving hazardous material can be the result of negligence involving the strict standards for transporting such dangerous goods. If you have suffered damages, either property damage due to impact or medical complications due to exposure, you deserve compensation for your pain, loss, and suffering. Contact Augusta truck accident attorney Chris Hudson today by phone or by clicking on the live chat link to learn more.
Will the new hours-of-service regulations do much to prevent truck accidents? There seems to be a lot of controversy.
Recently, the truck accident involving Tracy Morgan and his colleagues shined an important light on truck safety. The truck driver who hit the vehicle that Morgan was travelling in had been awake for an extremely long time, and while most of that time was not considered his duty time, the incident raised awareness for truck driver fatigue and the safety issues it can cause.
Tired drivers have been around since the beginning of the trucking industry, and unfortunately, these drivers are often involved in accidents. The laws surrounding the hours that truck drivers can operate are known as Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, and recently, changes have left the industry firmly divided. While many outside the industry have praised the new rules, most drivers and companies argue that these rules force drivers to be on the road during rush hour and bad weather, making for inefficient schedules and an increased risk of accidents.
Exemptions Abound in the Land of HOS Regulations
While driver fatigue has always been a problem, the HOS regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have also been problematic, requiring several overhauls and studies as ideas and opinions change. While the end goal was always safety, it appears that several carriers have been able to apply for—and receive—exemptions to various sections of the HOS regulations.
At the beginning of this month, two trucking companies that deliver fireworks were given an exemption to drive beyond their 14th duty hour window to ensure that they can return home following 4th of July shows. Trucks that haul bees and government trucks hauling radioactive material were granted an exemption from a rule that requires a 30 minute rest break in order to protect their cargo. Trucks hauling livestock, oversize or overweight trucks…the exemption list goes on.
The exemptions themselves are not a problem—each hauler must submit a request with sufficient evidence that it is necessary and safe to be exempt from the regulation, and the FMCSA investigates each case thoroughly. The problem is that the sheer number of exemptions required to permit safe operation shows that the HOS regulations require a vast overhaul.
If you have been hurt by a fatigued truck driver, the fault may lie much deeper than the driver alone. Contact Augusta truck accident attorney Chris Hudson today to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve from the party responsible for your damages.
I often see trucks that have been pulled over—what is going on in these stops?
When we see cars pulled over by police officers, it is usually a safe bet to assume that the driver was speeding or in violation of a traffic law. When it comes to the trucks that you see getting pulled over, however, the reasons may be different.
Department of Transportation Roadside Truck Inspections Keep Everyone Safe
Many of the stops you are observing are being conducted by Department of Transportation inspectors, and are for the purpose of inspections. There are several levels of DOT inspections, but commonly there will be three different types performed:
- The simplest level of inspection takes a thorough look at the driver’s paperwork. As you may know, truck drivers have several important documents with them at all times, including their CDL, their medical information, and their logbooks. Logbooks must be current up through the driver’s last change of duty status, and DOT inspectors often catch drivers that may be a few hours off in their logs.
- The next level of inspection involves the driver’s paperwork as well as documents for the truck, trailer, and load. Commercial vehicles have strict requirements involving maintenance, insurance, registration, inspections, load restrictions, and other safety issues, so inspectors look to make sure everything is up to date and meets all regulations.
- The most complex inspections involve a 37-point physical inspection of the truck, trailer, and load in addition to vehicle and driver documents. Inspectors will look at all critical systems on the truck and trailer, including brakes, tires, lights, the engine, and the frame.
If a truck driver (or the truck, trailer, or load) is found to be in violation, the driver may be fined, or the truck may be taken out of service until the problem is amended. DOT inspectors are notoriously thorough, and these roadside inspections go a long way to ensure that the trucks you share the road with are safe.
International Roadcheck Brought Attention to Cargo Safety
For nearly three decades, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has taken DOT inspections to the next level each year with a 72-hour inspection event. This year’s International Roadcheck occurred June 2-4, and with 10,000 CVSA-certified inspectors, an average of 17 trucks and buses throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico were inspected each minute for compliance.
This year’s Roadcheck focused on cargo securement, an issue that has caused several dangerous truck accidents. Truck drivers are required to ensure that their loads are properly loaded and tied down, both before starting a trip and periodically throughout the trip.
If you have been hurt in a truck accident, an experienced truck accident attorney can help you find out if the driver or vehicle was in violation of the strict safety standards required to keep you safe. Contact Augusta truck accident attorney Chris Hudson today if you have been injured in a Georgia or South Carolina truck accident; call his office today or fill out the online contact form to schedule your free consultation now.
I was recently hit by a moving truck when it ran a red light; the driver claims the brakes malfunctioned, but I’m not sure. Who is responsible for my injuries?
After an accident, it can be difficult to discern exactly what happened and what caused the crash. Many people experience such a high amount of stress immediately following a crash that their memory is often very jumbled, only to be sorted out days later. Even then, after the details of the crash become clear once again, it can seem nearly impossible to determine what—or who—caused the crash.
Moving Truck Accident Liability Requires Careful Investigation
Rented moving truck accidents are complicated. Unlike most truck accidents, the person driving the truck is not a commercially-licensed driver, and they are not experienced behind the wheel of the truck they are driving.
This does not relieve them of liability entirely, however, and in many cases, the driver of the rental truck can be found responsible for one of the following:
- Distracted driving: Just as in a car, undivided attention is required to drive a truck. The many distractions of moving may tempt the driver to look away from the road for a brief, but vital, moment.
- Negligent driving: Moving trucks handle infinitely worse than the average car or SUV. Driving with excessive speed or disregard for road conditions can lead to terrible wrecks in a heavy moving truck.
- Inexperience: It doesn’t take much to rent a moving truck—in fact, most people with a standard license and the funds to pay can rent one of these massive vehicles.
On the other hand, rented moving trucks take a lot of abuse being driven by inexperienced drivers moving heavy loads. These trucks require proper and frequent maintenance to ensure a safe ride—and the driver in your accident may have been telling the truth. Careful investigation of your wreck may reveal that the rental truck company was liable for the brake failure, which means that your compensation would come from the trucking company rather than the renter’s auto insurance policy.
If You’ve Been Hurt in a Moving Truck Wreck, Call Attorney Chris Hudson Today
After an accident of any kind, it can be a good idea to reach out to an attorney when liability is unclear. If you’ve been hurt in a moving truck accident and you are unsure of what your next step should be, schedule your free consultation with truck accident attorney Chris Hudson today by phone or by filling out the online contact form.
Can I be compensated for damage caused by a truck’s tire debris hitting my car?
As you drive down a busy road or highway, you probably see all manner of debris. Garbage, road kill, and tree branches are scattered across the lanes, making driving to work more of an obstacle course than a leisurely commute.
Most of these things in the road will not cause major damage to your car—maybe just a chip in your paint or on your windshield—but there is one thing that tends to strike fear into every driver. Truck tire treads are heavy, large, and capable of doing serious damage to your car. If you are ever hit by a tread at highway speeds, you could be seriously injured on top of the damage done to your vehicle.
Can you hold the truck driver responsible for this tire tread hitting your car or causing a truck accident? Was it the driver’s fault, or simply bad luck? After all, you cannot control when you get flat tires—can you really expect more from truck drivers?
You absolutely can (and should) expect more from these experienced commercial drivers. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road, which means that they must be aware of their driving performance and rig conditions at all times, including:
- Proper rate of speed
- Proper tire maintenance and inflation
- Overloaded/overweight trailer
By following these guidelines, tires—both in original condition and retreaded tires—can remain safe for both the truck driver and the other drivers on the road.
A Word of Caution About Truck Tire Tread Accidents
If you’re pursuing a claim against a trucking company because your car was damaged (or you were injured!) by truck tire tread, one of the most difficult tasks is proving that the tire tread actually originated with the truck in question. All too often, the tread may seem to have come from one truck, only to later find out that the tread had been in the road for some time prior to the truck driving over it and throwing it into your windshield.
If your car sustained serious damage from truck tire tread debris and you were injured as a result, you may be entitled to compensation from the truck driver or the trucking company for your damages. In order to secure your odds of compensation, you will need to prove that the tire tread debris came from a specific truck—and an experienced attorney can help. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.795.6261 to schedule your free consultation.
I recently suffered serious head and neck injuries in an underride accident with a truck, but since I rear-ended the trailer, is the wreck my fault?
Underride accidents with big trucks can be deadly, and while you survived, you are likely facing a long and challenging road to recovery. People injured in underride accidents are often unable to return to the workforce for extended periods of time, and with massive medical bills, it is important to ensure that you receive any compensation to which you may be entitled.
Because of the nature of an underride accident—namely, a car rear-ends a tractor trailer—many people are very confused about liability after a crash. Rear-end collisions are almost always an open-and-closed case of liability lying solely with the driver who hit the car in front of him or her. Usually, it is found that the driver was following too closely, going too fast, or simply not paying attention, and their negligence was ultimately responsible for the rear-end collision.
This is where underride accidents get tricky. Yes, you rear-ended the truck, but there are several things that must be examined—were the brake lights on the trailer working? Were you traveling at a reasonable rate of speed and following at a safe distance? Did the truck driver stop short or cut you off? Many of these small details may shift liability away from you and toward a negligent truck driver.
More importantly, even if the cause of the rear-end accident is pinned solely on you, the trailer’s underride guard will come into play. Truck trailers in the United States must have rear underride guards, and these guards must be in good condition. If the severity of your accident was aggravated by the lack of proper underride guards, the trucking company or truck owner could be held liable.
While the insurance companies may intentionally overlook the trucking company’s responsibility to outfit rigs with proper equipment, an experienced truck injury attorney will fight for your rights. If your injuries were partially or wholly the fault of a trucking company’s negligence, you deserve compensation. To learn more, contact the Augusta office of attorney Chris Hudson today.
A truck clipped my car on the highway, but the truck driver insists I am at fault since I was in his blind spot—will I be found liable?
If you have ever been in a minor accident, you have had one of two possible post-accident experiences. The first (and preferred) example is one where both drivers are kind, cooperative, and in general agreement about what happened to cause the accident. The second example is one where the drivers are both flustered and on completely different pages, each assuming the other is at fault.
It sounds as though you find yourself in more of the second scenario, and fortunately it also seems that you were not seriously injured. It is this type of situation that highlights just how important it is to file an accident report with law enforcement officials as soon as possible after the crash. Here’s why:
- When drivers’ accounts of the crash differ, law enforcement officials take accounts from both drivers as well as available witnesses. These reports can be used as evidence of what truly happened, which may become clearer after piecing together several reports.
- Another risk of disagreeing drivers is a feud with the insurance company. Insurers are businesses just like any other, and try to avoid paying out unnecessary claims. If there is any type of dispute between you and the truck driver, his insurance will almost surely put up a fierce fight to avoid paying you.
As far as your accident goes, much will depend on the circumstances of the crash. If you were following the rules of the road and were hit, the driver may have breached his duty of care to you by failing to clear his blind spots before changing lanes. If you were making unsignaled lane changes, driving aggressively, or speeding, however, it was you breaching the duty of care which means that you were negligent.
In your scenario, it is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney experienced with truck accident litigation. A careful investigation of the accident can be performed to get a better understanding of what truly happened that day. To schedule a no-cost consultation with a truck accident lawyer today, call attorney Christopher Hudson now, or click on the live chat feature to be connected with a firm representative.