The consequences of trucking accidents can be devastating, leading to years of pain, limited quality of life or even worse. Unfortunately, these types of accidents occur far too often.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 499,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2018. More than 4,400 people lost their lives in those accidents. In Florida alone, trucking accidents caused 316 deaths in 2017 and 338 deaths in 2018.
When this type of accident occurs, the victims, or the family members of deceased victims, may have the chance to obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit. But in order for that lawsuit to have the best possible chance for success, the plaintiffs will need to produce the strongest possible evidence.
Here’s a look at the different types of evidence that will be needed in order to prove your case. If you or someone you love suffers harm due to a trucking accident caused by a negligent party, please contact The Eberst Law Firm as soon as you can. We will listen to the details of your case, and then let you know how we may be able to help.
Data Recorders and In-Cab Cameras
Commercial trucks typically have what’s commonly referred to as a “black box,” a data recorder that works somewhat like the black box found in airplanes. It keeps track of what happens with the mechanical system of the truck during operation. It can also provide a picture of the driver’s actions before an accident occurs.
It can, for instance, record how fast the truck was travelling at the time of a crash, and can also show whether the brakes were engaged. It can be a very powerful piece of evidence that shows whether or not a driver was violating traffic laws at the time of the accident.
Also, many commercial trucking companies have started to install cameras inside the cab of their vehicles. They are positioned to show the road in front of the vehicle, and can also show what the driver is doing. It will provide evidence of tailgating, passing recklessly, or other kinds of aggressive driving. Cameras can also show if a driver is using a cell phone while driving, drinking alcohol or using drugs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has strict rules that govern how long a truck driver is able to spend behind the wheel. USDOT regulations mandate that drivers can’t be on duty more than 14 consecutive hours, with no more than 11 consecutive hours spent on the road.
Also, drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours over a 7-day period, or 70 hours during an 8-day period. After this period, there must be at least a 34-hour pause before drivers can start another driving session. In addition, a driver must rest for at least 10 hours before starting their next daily shift.
In order to conform to those rules, drivers have to maintain log books that show how long they operate their trucks. If the logbook indicates USDOT workload violations, that could be another excellent piece of evidence to help prove your case. A skilled attorney will know how to obtain the logbook and decipher its contents. He or she will also be able to tell if any tampering of the records has taken place.
Expert Witness Statements
Expert witnesses can significantly help your case by testifying on your behalf. For example, an expert in accident reconstruction can say what they believe to be the reasons for the accident, based on analysis and an investigation into the accident. Medical experts can confirm the severity of your injuries, and the long-term effects they will have on the quality of your life. They can also testify regarding how much your treatment will cost.
Not only can an experienced attorney find experts to testify, he or she can also work to find eyewitnesses to the accident and obtain statements. These statements can help prove your claim that the truck driver was negligent, and is the one to blame.
Medical records can also be critically important to proving your case. Keep each and every receipt, doctor’s note, or any other document that involves the injury you’ve suffered and the treatment you’ve received. These include prescriptions, medical bills, scans, test results and everything else. One of our attorneys will let you know exactly what kind of documentation you’ll need to keep.
Photographs and Video
It will also be important to take photos and/or videos if possible. You’ll want to try to take pictures of the scene of the accident, any injuries you’ve suffered, and damage to your vehicle.
At Eberst Law, we conduct thorough investigations of trucking accidents on a regular basis. We look for physical evidence that can help piece together the events that led to the crash. These are just a few examples of what is commonly referred to as “forensic evidence.”
- Accident debris
- Damaged signposts, guardrails and other objects
- Skid marks
Your photos and/or videos can be an invaluable help in order to help your attorney gather as much evidence as possible.
Commercial truck drivers will typically receive instructions from dispatchers on where they need to go, and when they need to get there. The records of these instructions can be of help as well. They could, for example, show that a driver was dispatched to a job in violation of USDOT regulations.
Weigh Stations and Loading Dock Reports
In many instances, a trucking accident will occur because a truck was either overloaded, or it was improperly loaded. Overloading a truck can create an imbalance, which can make the truck much more difficult to control. If too many items are placed on one side of the cargo hold, that can cause the vehicle to slide or roll over. If cargo isn’t properly secured, it can shift – increasing the chances of a rollover accident.
Data from weigh stations, as well as information from loading dock reports, may help prove that negligent loading contributed to the accident.
Post-Collision Drug and Alcohol Test Results
Every trucking company will usually require drivers to undergo drug and alcohol tests if they’re involved in an accident. If the truck driver is shown to have been under the influence when the accident occurred, that could make it easier to prove he or she was at fault.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney if You’ve Been Involved in an Accident
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Eberst Law if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial truck. The faster you contact us, the faster we can get to work investigating the accident. Certain types of evidence can disappear very quickly after a wreck takes place, so time will be of the essence.