In an accident with the tractor-trailer or other commercial truck, getting the right evidence is vital to winning a truck accident case.
Finding Violations of Safety Rules
Professional truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license and are employed by a “motor carrier” that must comply with safety laws designed to protect us. These safety rules are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Some of the rules relate to the driving of the vehicle, some of the training and qualifications of the drivers, others refer to the hours the trucker can work and finally the condition of the truck. The following are some of the methods used by top 18- wheeler accident lawyers to get evidence to win truck accident cases.
Electronic Logging Devices
Recently, the Department of Transportation has enacted rules regarding electronic logging devices which are used to keep track of safety compliance for such things as hours of service. These new electronic logging devices take the place of the old paper logs which are easily falsified.
Obtaining the electronic logging device data before the data is lost or destroyed is an important step in any serious injury or wrongful death truck accident case.
Crash Computer Data
The majority of the trucks on the road today come with computer crash data often called the “black box” which contains vital information such as the speed of the truck, application of the brakes, and other helpful evidence.
Obtaining the maintenance records for the tractor or the trailer is a must do whenever the condition of the vehicle may be an issue in the case. Trucking companies are notorious for ignoring safety items and general maintenance of a semi-truck. Whenever the condition of the brakes or other safety features may be an issue, obtaining the maintenance records is mandatory.
Driver Qualification File
Trucking companies are required to keep a driver qualification file on each of their truck drivers containing evidence of compliance with the safety rules or failure to comply with the safety rules. Further, the qualification file can be particularly damaging to the company when the truck driver is not qualified or improperly trained to operate the big rig.
More and more often we are finding trucking companies have installed video cameras in the trucks. Mainly larger trucking companies are utilizing video camera technology to have a safer fleet and also to prevent frivolous claims. Nevertheless, in many of our cases, the video evidence prevents the truck driver from denying the facts.
The old saying a picture is worth a thousand words is often very accurate. A video showing what happened in the accident saves the victim or their family a lot of words in a truck accident lawsuit. Local businesses now more often than not, use video surveillance to keep their premises safe. Obtaining the video evidence that may exist from local businesses or homes in the vicinity of the crash can make or break a case.
Most people injured in the 18-wheeler accident are not able to gather the names and phone numbers of witnesses who may have seen the crash. Whether being transported by ambulance, or otherwise unable to obtain witness names, identification is critical to get important testimony regarding what happened.
911 tapes can be subpoenaed and almost always contain the name and phone number of the caller. Making Freedom of Information Requests also is used by leading attorneys. Unfortunately, most of the time, the crash report itself will not list critical witnesses other than the parties themselves. The importance of obtaining the necessary information about who may have seen the crash cannot be overstated.
Reports About the Trucker
Running reports about the truck drivers involved in an accident can be a fruitful source of information. Unfortunately, many truck drivers change the story about what happened in the crash to prevent the truth from hurting them. The motivations can be various, from protecting their commercial driver’s license to being coached to have seen the accident differently. In those cases, the credibility of the driver becomes a vital part of the case.