Trucking accidents are among the most devastating accidents that occur on the roads due to the large size of trucks. Of all the types of automobile accidents, truck accidents have the most severe damage and fatality rate. With the proper establishment of liability, victims of truck accidents can get ample compensation for their losses. For you to secure payment for a personal injury case revolving around truck accidents, proper investigation is necessary. Sufficient evidence is needed to establish the party at fault. Some of the potential defendants in a truck accident case include the truck driver and the trucking company, among others. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm can help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim after suffering injuries in a truck accident.
Evidence Required to Prove a Claim
Proving fault in a trucking accident can be complicated. Evidence is essential to help establish responsibility in a trucking accident. After involvement in a trucking accident, being able to obtain or gather evidence on your own can be difficult. It is particularly hard to gather evidence if you have suffered injuries in the accident because you need time to recover. An attorney can help gather the necessary evidence to support you with the case and enable you to get the compensation you deserve. Extraordinary claims call for substantial evidence. A truck accident is an unusual accident and may require more proof than a regular automobile accident case. What evidence is necessary for a truck accident case?
Truck Inspection Logs
The inspection reports of the truck involved in the accident will help to prove whether the truck was in good working condition at the time of the accident. Was the truck safe to be on the road, or did it pose a danger to other road users? Missing truck inspection reports may be an indication that the truck did not undergo the inspections required by the law. Failing to have the truck inspected is a form of negligence and may render the truck company liable for the accident. The inspection report may reveal that the truck had some issues, but the trucking company still released the truck on the road without fixing the problems. In this case, the trucking company may be liable for the accident.
If your vehicle gets into an accident with a truck, the vehicle wreckage will provide significant evidence in the truck accident case. Any visible damage to your car will be an indication of what happened at the time of the accident. In accident cases involving trucks and regular vehicles, regular vehicles suffer extensive damages. Immediately after the accident, it is advisable to capture photos of your car showing the damages. You should also keep the car in its damaged condition after the accident until you file a personal injury case. If you repair the vehicle before filing a claim, you may lose valuable evidence, and this could determine the outcome of your case.
Truck Maintenance Logs
The truck maintenance logs are just as necessary as the truck inspection reports. Before sending the truck to the next haul, the trucking company should ensure that they perform essential maintenance of the truck. The law requires a truck to undergo maintenance regularly. The maintenance records will show if the truck was in good shape to be on the road at the time of the accident. If the truck was faulty at the time of the accident, the trucking company might be at fault.
The trucking company may also be at fault for failing to take the truck for routine maintenance. At times, information from the maintenance records may render the maintenance company liable for the accident. For instance, if the truck underwent regular maintenance, but the experts fail to identify fault or damage, the maintenance company may be at fault.
Truck Driver Employment Information
When a truck accident occurs, the truck driver's employment information will provide crucial evidence in the case. The driver's qualification file contains essential information about the truck driver as required by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSR). Every trucking company must maintain a driver qualification file for every driver they employ. This file will include the employment application documents for the driver and the employment history of the driver, including the previous employer.
Also contained in the qualification file is the annual review of the truck driver's driving records and the annual certification of violations. The file also includes the medical examiner's report outlining the health status of the truck driver. The file also describes the road test certification details of the truck driver.
The truck driver's training file will also provide valuable evidence in case a truck accident occurs. The training file is almost identical to the qualification file but may contain additional information regarding additional achievements and specialized driving records of the truck driver. The trucking company has to ensure that it employs qualified drivers. The trucking company also has to update the skills of the truck driver through training. The qualification and training file will indicate whether the driver is competent. If the records reveal a lack of competence by the truck driver, the trucking company, or the driver's employer may be liable for the accident.
In California, the law requires all drivers to keep track of their driving hours in a logbook. By examining the truck driver's logbook, it will be evident if the driver exceeded the set hours on the road. One of the leading causes of truck accidents is fatigued drivers. If a truck driver operates a truck for many hours without a break, fatigue may occur, and the driver may not be able to concentrate on the road. The driver may feel drowsy or even sleep while driving.
A trucking company may force drivers to work for long shifts to boost their profits. The truck drivers may fail to object to the long working hours to be able to increase their earnings. In the case of working for long hours, both the trucking company and the truck driver may be to blame for the truck accident.
Driver Background Checks
Before hiring a truck driver, a trucking company needs to run the necessary background checks on the driver. By reviewing the background checks records, it will be evident if the trucking company conducted the investigations required on the driver before hiring him/her. The records will also reveal illegal hiring. It may also be evident in the files that the truck driver should not have been hired due to something that he/she did in the past.
To be able to obtain and retain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) in California, a truck driver has to meet specific standards. By checking the status of a driver's CDL, it will be evident if a driver is qualified to operate a truck.
The truck company may also request for the medical certificates of the truck driver. The law requires truck drivers to undergo a medical exam every two years and to submit a medical report to their employers following the medical examination. Failure to conduct medical reviews and provide medical certificates may render both the truck driver and the trucking company liable for the truck accident. Some medical conditions may require a truck driver to stay off the road.
Alcohol and Drug Screening Results
To ensure that their drivers are sober, trucking companies may conduct unplanned alcohol and drug testing. However, not all trucking companies adhere to this requirement. Therefore, drug and alcohol testing results of lack thereof may be an indication of inebriation as a factor if a truck accident.
A driver may also have to undergo routine drug and alcohol testing after a truck accident. A positive outcome in the drug and alcohol testing after a truck accident may be a great indicator that the truck driver is at fault for the accident. If the driver has incomplete or missing drug and alcohol testing reports, the driver or the truck company may be liable for the accident.
Proof of Truck Failure
Specific evidence may be necessary to prove a truck failure in a truck accident. The information may include the repair records of the truck. The repair records of the truck may reveal that the truck had recurring mechanical issues. The documents may also show that no repairs were recently conducted on the truck. The trucking company may be at fault for failing to repair the truck.
The driver's pre and the post-trip inspection report are also necessary. The law requires a truck driver to perform a safety inspection of his/her truck before and after a trip. Failing to perform pre and post-trip inspection may render the truck driver liable for the accident. The truck driver may be mainly responsible if it is evident that the accident occurred due to preventable mechanical issues.
The data from the truck's black box can help to reveal what happened immediately before the accident occurred. For instance, the accident may have occurred due to a lack of braking. Lack of braking may prove distracted driving by the truck driver. The black box may also reveal that the accident happened due to excessive speed, and this may prove recklessness and negligence of the truck driver.
Other than capturing the speed the truck was traveling at when the accident occurred, the electronic monitoring data will also reveal the time worked by the truck driver and any other automatically-recorded information. For instance, if the truck driver had operated the truck too many hours above the allowable limit, the black box will indicate this information.
Electronic Onboard Recording Devices (EOBRs) can reveal whether truck equipment failure led to the occurrence of the accident. Also, information captured on the GPS can help to show the location of a truck accident and the direction and the speed of travel.
If a drive cam is available, it can provide valuable information. The cam can provide video evidence of the events that took place at the time of the accident. Cell Phone records can also help to reveal the cause of a truck accident. If the call logs indicate that the truck driver was texting or calling at the time of the accident, it may be evident that the truck accident occurred due to distracted driving. This may make the truck driver liable for reckless or distracted driving, which is an indication of negligence.
The trucking company records may also provide valuable evidence in a truck accident. For instance, if a trucking company has a history of negligence or personal injury lawsuits, this information will be available on the records of the trucking company. The trucking company records may also help to reveal if the truck company has a history of failing to comply with the federal trucking regulations. From the trucking company's records, it will be evident if the trucking company has hired unqualified drivers in the past. The records will also indicate that the company has had many drivers involved in accidents. These facts may help to point out that the trucking company may be liable for the accident.
In truck accidents in California, witness statements are also relevant, and they heal a great deal in determining who is at fault for a truck accident. Witnesses refer to people who were physically present at the time the truck accident occurred. At times, it may be challenging to gather evidence from witnesses, especially if the witness suffered injuries in the truck accident and is not able to record a statement. However, experienced investigators, your attorney, and the police can be able to engage the witnesses and get the required evidence from them.
A witness can help to confirm a victim's version of the accident and help to determine the party responsible for the truck accident. Your attorney can help to interview witnesses willing to corroborate with your version of the accident as you concentrate on the recovery from your injuries.
For you to show what happened and how much damage occurred at the scene of the accident, pictures will come in handy. However, due to the severe nature of truck accidents, you may not be able to take pictures immediately after the accident. However, you may request a loved one to take photos on your behalf. It is also essential to ask a person to take pictures of your injuries as you receive medical treatment. The police and the media may also take photos at the scene of the accident. Your attorney can assist you in obtaining the images from the press and the police and use them to support your case.
After suffering injuries in a truck accident, you will be required to seek medical treatment for the injuries sustained. Your medical records will provide crucial evidence in the personal injury case. The documents will outline the injuries you have sustained and long-term prognosis. When receiving medical treatment, you should request the doctor to give you copies of the medical records and the medical receipts to show the money spent on paying for treatment. To build a strong case and to calculate the value of your case, your injury attorney will require copies of your medical records.
Expert testimony is different from the statement obtained from regular witnesses. For instance, your attorney may use your doctor to testify and provide evidence of your medical prognosis and injuries. The attorney may also engage in an accident reconstruction expert. An accident reconstruction expert visits the scene of the accident and examines it to determine what happened. The expert may look out for features like skid marks on the road to determine who was at fault in the truck accident. Expert testimony will go a long way in determining the outcome of a case.
Preservation of Evidence in a Truck Accident
After a truck accident, the defendant may try to do away with some evidence to reduce the impact of the personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, it is crucial to seek the help of a personal injury attorney who can issue a spoliation of evidence. This letter is a document sent by your attorney requesting the preservation of all the evidence and the information that is pertinent to your case. Failing to comply with the requirements of the spoliation letter may lead to significant consequences. If the trucking company or any other defendant in the truck case destroys evidence after receiving a spoliation letter, it will make the defendant look suspicious.
Some evidence may be missing since it may not be possible to know all the evidence available. However, the spoliation letter may require the trucking company to maintain extensive documentation on both the driver and the truck involved in the accident. Some of the evidence that the spoliation letter may outline for preservation include the truck inspection reports, the driver logs, data from electronic onboard recording devices, and photos from the accident scene.
The trucking company should not repair the truck wreckage before the victim or victims file a personal injury lawsuit. The trucking company may try to use the strategy of repairing the truck to help them eliminate evidence. The truck company may also repair the truck to ensure that it meets the regulation standards. This would help to wipe away any evidence indicating that the truck company was negligent in maintaining the truck. Your attorney can have an expert inspect the truck immediately after the accident and document a report of his/her findings. Negligent maintenance standards of the truck would be sufficient in proving liability in a personal injury lawsuit.
Evidence Required to Prove Negligence
Just like the regular automobile accident cases, truck accidents revolve around negligence. If a truck driver acts negligently, he/she will be liable to other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians for any damages resulting from the accident. The truck driver may be negligent for failing to exercise due care and for violating traffic laws. The negligence of the trucking company could also be the cause of a truck accident.
According to California's negligence law, the negligent party is responsible for getting the injuries and damages inflicted on other parties. The plaintiff will have to prove various factors to show that the defendant was negligent in causing the truck accident.
The victim has to prove that the truck driver owed his/her a duty of care. This aspect is easy to determine because, in California, a driver owes other road users, including other drivers and pedestrians, a duty of care. The plaintiff must also show that the defendant breached the duty of care. The victim must also prove that the defendant's breach of duty of care was a substantial factor in causing the victim's injuries.
In California, the duty of care requires the defendant to use care and reasonable caution while operating a vehicle on the road. A driver has to look out for other road users whenever he/she is running a car on the road. A driver has to look out for obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles while on the road. A driver also has a duty of ensuring that he/she controls the movement and the speed of his/her vehicle.
Evidence that can help to prove that the truck driver breached his or her duty of care includes proof of distracted driving, speeding, failure to yield right of way, and improper lane changes. The truck driver may be liable for texting while driving and for failing to obey traffic signals.
If there is evidence that a truck driver was violating California vehicle codes when the accident occurred, the driver may be guilty of negligence. The driver may be responsible for the injuries and the damages suffered by the plaintiff if the driver’s violation was a substantial factor in causing the accident.
The trucking company may be liable if there is evidence that the company overloaded the truck or allowed overweight vehicles on the road by violating the California Vehicle Code 35551 VC. The trucking company may be at fault for allowing trucks with unbalanced cargo on the way. Allowing a driver to operate in violation of safety laws and failing to maintain trucks and trailers may also be a form of negligence.
Find an LA Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a truck accident, you will require ample evidence to support the case. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm can help you gather viable evidence to prove the negligence of the defendant. Contact us at 310-935-0089 and speak to one of our attorneys.