Any type of motor vehicle accident can disrupt your life. An accident with a commercial truck, however, can be especially traumatic and the aftermath can be much more devastating due to these vehicles’ massive size, incredible weight, and lack of maneuverability.
Unfortunately, these dangerous wrecks are especially common in Texas. In 2015, for example, Texas had 34,230 crashes involving a commercial vehicle, and these wrecks caused 7,892 injuries and 601 fatalities. Both of these figures represent the highest totals of any state in the country for 2015.
Like with any accident, it is important to gather and preserve as much evidence as possible after a crash involving a tractor-trailer or other large truck; however, this can prove challenging in a trucking accident case because evidence from commercial trucking accidents are treated differently. Commercial trucking companies must follow industry and federal rules and regulations on top of those at the state level, meaning that there is a lot more evidence (and related procedural complexity) unique to these accidents compared to a typical motor vehicle crash.
Evidence Unique to Trucking Accidents
When any vehicle accident occurs, it is important to contact the police and emergency medical services first. If you are able, thoroughly document the accident scene with photos; try and capture everything from highway and weather conditions to injuries and vehicle damage. After that, collect witness contact information and make sure any witnesses talk to police to give a formal statement of what they saw. Don’t let anyone remove anything from the accident scene until everything is properly and formally documented and the police are involved.
Three separate categories of evidence need to be collected in the course of a trucking-related lawsuit; these three categories pertain to whether the evidence involves the driver, the vehicle, or the cargo.
Examples of evidence regarding the driver:
- Training files
- Driving log
- Post-accident drug and alcohol test
Examples of evidence regarding the truck:
- Maintenance and inspection history documents
- Data from the truck’s communications, video, and GPS systems
- Data from the onboard module systems (engine control and brakes, for example)
Examples of evidence regarding the cargo load:
- Bills of loading
- Weight tickets
- Dispatch instructions
- Delivery documents
This evidence helps to create a bigger picture of what happened before the accident: Had the driver had enough sleep and breaks, as mandated by federal trucking laws? Was the truck’s maintenance adequate? Was the driver following company policies and federal safety regulations? Did the cargo or the way it was loaded contribute to the crash? This information is critical to proving liability and/or negligence on the part of the driver or trucking company.
Obtaining all the evidence you need can be challenging, and, without all the evidence, it might be more difficult to prove liability. Gathering everything you need in a timely manner may require some assistance from an attorney who understands these complex crashes and the many types of evidence they often involve.
Obtaining Evidence in a Trucking Case
Obtaining the needed evidence in a trucking accident case can be difficult as an individual victim. This is especially true when you are busy with medical appointments, physical therapy, family matters, and all the other complications that tend to follow a severe accident. If you’re trying to investigate your truck wreck and obtain evidence yourself, you may end up feeling like there simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything you need accomplished for your case and also get your life back on track.
In the case of gathering evidence after a commercial trucking accident, however, time is of the essence, and action needs to be taken as soon as possible. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the federal agency that regulates the trucking industry—only requires that certain information such as driver logs be documented and filed for a certain amount of time, usually six months to one year. This generally means that waiting beyond this period can be harmful to your case.
If an accident with a commercial truck occurs, the trucking company should keep all documentation regarding the driver, truck maintenance, and that day’s cargo regardless of the timeframe. Even though the law requires them to save all crash-related documentation, however, it doesn’t mean they will. The longer you wait to work with an attorney and compel the trucking company to retain all the evidence that relates to your crash, the more likely it is that you’re too late to get the needed evidence.
It is also possible that the driver or trucking company might intentionally destroy or falsify evidence. Even though this is illegal, it does happen and can hurt your chances of getting the compensation you need and deserve. This is why it’s important to act quickly and get someone on your side fighting for you who can recognize when the trucking company has broken the law.
Why Hiring an Attorney Can Make the Difference in a Trucking Accident Case
Hiring an experienced tucking attorney can help you navigate the complicated landscape of commercial trucking accidents and obtain all possible evidence. This is critical in the success of your claim. It is best to begin with a spoliation letter, which lets the trucking company know that you want to obtain certain pieces of evidence to prove their liability and negligence in an accident. Once the trucking company receives this letter, they will be violating federal law if they purposefully destroy or discard this evidence, regardless of the time frame. From there, your lawyer can guide you on the best path forward for your unique case.
If an individual wants to file a claim or pursue legal action against the insurance or trucking company, there are many factors working against them. From the trucking company’s lawyers to the insurance company lawyers, a trucking accident case can be a major fight and might leave a car accident victim who doesn’t have proper legal representation to shoulder the enormous costs of such a crash on their own.
For more information, you can download our free ebook “5 Mistakes to Avoid After a Truck Wreck” to help prevent this from happening to you or someone you love.
Contact Crosley Law Firm Immediately After a Commercial Trucking Accident
Crosley Law Firm is a strong advocate for increased safety regulation of the trucking industry. Catastrophic semi-truck crashes—and their devastating effects—motivates us to focus on litigating trucking accident cases and fighting for victims. If you or someone you love was involved in an accident involving a commercial truck, call (877) 535-4529 or fill out our convenient online form today to schedule a free consultation with a qualified and experienced attorney from the Crosley team.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
Related ArticlesView All Blog Articles
What Causes Truck Tire Blowouts?May 09, 2023
Imagine this scenario: You’re driving down the highway, about to pass a semi-truck. Suddenly and without warning, one of the truck’s tires explodes, causing the truck to suddenly veer into your lane. It may sound like a freak occurrence. But in fact, the stats show that tire blowouts happen with alarming regularity—especially for large commercial […]
What Is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury (and When Should I File My Lawsuit)?Feb 01, 2023
One of the first questions many people have an injury is, “How long do I have to make a personal injury claim?” While that’s an extremely important piece of information to know, it can also be misleading—and in some ways, the wrong question to ask. Here’s the short answer: In most cases, you have two […]
What Should You Do After a FedEx Truck Crash in Texas?Dec 09, 2022
With more than 100,000 vehicles, nearly 125,000 drivers, and an annual revenue estimated at around $84 billion, FedEx is easily one of the largest trucking companies in the United States. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that FedEx freight trucks are involved in injury-causing truck crashes nearly every day on American roads. In fact, […]
5 Reasons You Should Always Talk to a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer After a CrashJul 21, 2022
After a traffic accident, you have a lot to think about and plenty of decisions to make. One of them is whether you’ll work with a commercial vehicle accident lawyer to demand compensation for your losses. You should always talk to an attorney if you’ve been hurt in a car or truck accident. No matter […]
What Causes Texas Oil Truck Accidents (and What to Do If You’re Injured)Jul 13, 2022
In Texas, the oil and gas industry is big business. More than 400,000 Texans are directly employed within the industry, helping to produce, transport, and refine more than 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil per year. The sheer amount of oil tankers we have on the ground virtually guarantees that at least a few serious […]
How Does Insurance Work with Commercial Truck Accident Liability?Dec 02, 2021
Many truck wreck victims have never been in a collision before and aren’t sure where to start. At Crosley Law, we know how overwhelming the aftermath of a truck crash can feel, especially if you or someone you loved suffered serious injuries. Before you contact the insurance company or accept a quick settlement, you need […]
How to Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney in San AntonioNov 03, 2021
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, truck wreck, or any other personal injury incident that wasn’t your fault in the San Antonio area, you might be overwhelmed by all the options available to you. Even if you’ve already decided you want to work with a personal injury lawyer, this city doesn’t have a […]
Fatigue-Related Accidents: How Truck Driver Fatigue Causes WrecksSep 22, 2021
When the topic of impaired driving is discussed, most people think of drunk driving. But the truth is, truck driver fatigue (which can become even more dangerous if it leads to sleeping at the wheel) is one of the most common forms of driver impairment. In fact, it’s comparable to drunk driving. While anyone can […]
I Was Injured by a UPS Driver. What Can I Expect?Aug 02, 2021
You see delivery drivers all over, running from one destination to the next. But when the UPS truck crashes into you, they could make the road to your settlement a lot more complicated. There were 2,759 crashes involving UPS drivers over the last two years. Over 980 of those involved an injury, which adds up […]
How to Get a Fair Settlement in Your Truck Accident ClaimJul 22, 2021
In 2020, there were 32,562 crashes involving commercial vehicles in Texas. They resulted in almost 600 fatalities and thousands of serious injuries. Truck crashes can cause devastating injuries — leaving victims struggling to move on. At Crosley Law, we help crash victims get the answers and accountability they deserve. Our truck accident lawyers have earned […]
Do you or a family member
need legal advice?
Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death.