Trucking Accidents Are Rising at an Alarming Rate
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of serious truck accidents in the U.S. increased by 62% between 2009 and 2015. During that period, fatal accidents also increased by 26%. This increase in accidents means more trucking accident victims and loved ones of victims who desperately need compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other financial hardships caused by these wrecks.
Unfortunately, most truck accident cases involve multiple defendants, competing insurance policies, a wide variety of laws and regulations, and complicated crash analysis. Without the guidance of an experienced truck accident lawyer, you might overlook valuable evidence or miss important procedural details if you try to represent yourself.
Below, we discuss some of the important factors and considerations involved in a truck accident case and explain how an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking wreck.
Have You Identified All the Possible Defendants?
Trucking accidents can involve multiple defendants. Depending on the facts of your case, you might have a case against:
- A negligent driver
- The trucking company that owned the truck or placard
- A truck leasing company
- The manufacturer(s) of defective or dangerous trucks or parts
- Shippers and loaders (when improper loading causes an accident)
While some of these defendants are easy to identify (such as the driver), others require a more careful investigation. When you work with an experienced truck accident attorney, they can help you identify all of the responsible parties, which in turn increases your odds of receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries and the costs that followed.
Did You Preserve All of the Evidence?
After a truck accident, you must act quickly to preserve evidence. Under federal law, truck drivers and trucking companies must document and preserve records of driver qualifications and activities, truck maintenance, and other valuable information. These records, combined with physical evidence from the scene of the collision, are vital to pursuing a successful injury claim.
Unfortunately, trucking companies often fail to meet their obligation to preserve evidence in a truck crash case, and some of them will even willfully cover up or obscure important details that could affect your case. These unscrupulous companies would rather take their chances and break the law than potentially pay an injured victim fairly for their claim.
When you work with a truck accident lawyer, they will work to ensure the preservation of evidence such as the following:
- Downloads from the truck’s onboard safety devices
- GPS, “black box,” and other electronic data
- Truck maintenance records
- Information about the driver’s training and qualifications
- Evidence of physical damage the truck sustained
- Post-accident drug test results
- Bills of lading and other documents
- Dispatch instructions
- Witness testimony
Importantly, federal regulations only require trucking companies and drivers to retain their logs for six months in most cases. After this time, most logs are destroyed. For this reason, you and your lawyer must promptly issue preservation letters. Otherwise, you risk losing valuable evidence and diminishing the value of your claim.
Did a State or Federal Agency Investigate the Accident?
State and federal agencies frequently investigate truck accidents that result in fatalities or serious physical injuries. During these investigations, regulatory and law enforcement agencies (including the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Commission) obtain witness statements, reconstruct the accident, and might assemble findings that increase the strength of your case.
What Happened Before the Accident?
The federal government strictly regulates truck drivers’ qualifications and limits their time on the road. Unfortunately, the trucking industry often pressures drivers to disregard these safety requirements and deliver shipments as quickly as possible. This can lead to problems such as:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted or impaired driving
- Improperly loaded trucks
Your truck accident lawyer can help reconstruct the time before the collision and identify any discrepancies in the driver’s records that might reveal what caused the crash.
You’ll also want to understand whether there were maintenance issues with the truck. An experienced truck accident attorney will investigate the condition of the truck’s tires, brakes, and other safety systems. If improper truck maintenance or defective parts contributed to your accident, you might have additional claims against the owner of the truck or manufacturer of the parts.
Did Safety Violations Occur During the Truck Accident?
Most truck accident claims are based on negligence. In other words, you must show that the defendant (either the driver, trucking company, or another party) caused your injuries through negligent behavior. Each violation of a traffic law or trucking regulation helps solidify your negligence claim.
It’s important to study all the evidence in the aftermath of a truck wreck, including crash reports, post-collision physicals and drug screens, and witness statements. These records can help you understand whether the truck driver caused the crash due to fatigue, illness, distracted driving, or other factors.
Of course, for a truck wreck victim who’s been seriously injured or a grieving family member, asking them to juggle all of this evidence and legal detail is an incredible amount to ask. That’s why you may want to speak with an experienced attorney in the wake of a devastating truck wreck so you can focus on healing and recovery while still knowing your case is in good hands.
The Team at Crosley Law Firm Is Here to Answer Your Questions and Fight for Your Legal Rights
If you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, the attorneys at Crosley Law Firm are here to help with the daunting tasks of preserving evidence, identifying defendants, managing your claim, and making sure your rights are protected.
Contact us today for a free consultation so we can listen to the details of your story and help you decide what your best course of action is moving forward.
Large truck and bus crash facts 2015 (2017, April 7). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.