What Evidence is Important to Present in a Truck Accident Case?
When semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are involved in accidents with cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs, the consequences are often severe for the drivers and passengers in those smaller vehicles. Big trucks can range from 57- to 61-feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they’re fully loaded. In comparison, even some of the most oversized passenger vehicles weigh less than 6,000 pounds.
Because of the size and weight difference, big truck accidents can cause victims to suffer debilitating and even life-threatening injuries. That means they often face expensive medical treatments and disabilities that can put them out of work for weeks, months, or even years.
Trucking accident victims need maximum compensation after an injury accident. However, large trucking companies and their insurers often fight these claims aggressively. They don’t want to pay accident victims what they deserve unless they are required to pay. This is why evidence is so important in a truck accident case. Without evidence, the trucking companies may dig their heels in and refuse to pay you what you rightfully deserve.
The aftermath of a truck accident is often complex. Police and emergency personnel arrive at the scene and cart away the accident debris and damaged vehicles. Emergency medical teams rush injured victims to receive medical care. The accident site is cleaned and opened back up to traffic relatively quickly.
Injured truck accident victims are likely hospitalized and dealing with serious medical issues and injuries. They may face an uncertain future and even a lifetime of disabilities. During this time, insurance companies and trucking companies begin trying to minimize their liabilities. They may remove or destroy valuable evidence and even write over important black box data.
Preserving evidence is critical after a serious trucking accident. For this reason, it is important to act quickly. The evidence left behind is a key to collecting the money you need, and insurers know this. While it is not always possible to gather evidence in the immediate moments after the crash, our attorneys can obtain a lot of valuable information in the days and weeks following the truck accident.
We can visit the location of the crash vehicles and examine them closely. We can interview eyewitnesses and collect the black box data and prevent it from being destroyed. We can even employ accident reconstruction teams to help us begin building your case.
Proving negligence after a serious truck accident is the key to collecting compensation. Without negligence and liability, you cannot file a claim against the truck driver or trucking company. When determining fault and proving negligence, our lawyers must clearly show that the trucking company or truck driver is to blame. If multiple parties share liability, we must show that their negligence directly led to the accident and your injuries.
Some of the evidence our truck accident lawyers will collect to help you prove negligence may include:
- The police report. The police report is a vital piece of evidence in any accident case. Since the police are the first to arrive at the scene of the accident, they can give better insight into the causes of the crash. Their details often provide the framework for establishing negligence.
- Black box data. All large commercial trucks come equipped with electronic monitoring devices. These devices, also known as black boxes, are similar to the ones found in airplanes. They record valuable information, such as the vehicle’s speed at the time of the crash and when the brakes were applied.
- Electronic logging device data. Electronic logging devices also tell us how long the driver operated the vehicle without a break. This can prove useful when determining if the truck driver and trucking company violated any FMCSA rules and regulations.
- Dashcam and surveillance footage. This footage can help us determine if the driver failed to take action to avoid an accident. It can give us clues whether the driver was distracted at the time of the accident.
- Photos of the crash scene. Any pictures of the accident scene can prove useful when establishing liability and proving negligence. These pictures may include skid marks, truck damage, car damage, and road debris. They can help our attorneys and experts piece together what happened in the moments that led to the accident.
- Repair, maintenance, and inspection records. Sometimes trucking companies cut corners when maintaining and repairing their fleet. If the trucking maintenance records show negligence in keeping the truck operating safely, we can use this to hold the trucking company liable.
- Expert witness testimony. Sometimes the insurance company or trucking company argues that you share the blame for the accident. When this occurs, we can use expert testimony to help establish negligence and prove who is truly to blame. This may include accident reconstruction experts, as well as auto parts specialists or mechanics.
- Other evidence of liability. We leave no stone unturned when proving negligence. This often means gathering lots of evidence, such as toll booth receipts, food receipts, and even cellphone records.
After we establish liability, we must then prove damages. This means showing the insurance company how much you’ve lost because of the crash and the injuries you suffered. When seeking compensation, we want to be sure you have enough money to cover everything from medical expenses and lost wages to pain and suffering.
To do this, we must gather a different type of evidence that includes:
- Medical Records. These records will help us to establish your injuries and how they will adversely affect your life and your future. Insurance companies will push back on this, but by working with your medical team we can help you recover money for your medical expense both now — and in the future.
- Financial Documents. When you suffer an injury, you are often forced to miss work. This can put your family under serious financial strains. We can help you recover the money you lost due to missed work. We can also help you recover the loss of any future earnings. To do this, we gather financial documents as evidence. This may include tax returns, pay stubs, and other important financial information.
- Receipts and Invoices. We will gather the receipts and invoices needed to show all the damages you suffered, including vehicular damage and other types of property damage. This may also include domestic assistance required to help during your injury or any alternative transportation you needed to take.
- Expert Witness Testimony. When there is a dispute regarding liability or the value of your claim, we can bring in expert testimony to prove your case. This may include medical, financial, and other vocational experts to provide testimony.
It is critical to preserve evidence as soon as possible after a serious truck accident. This is the best way to improve your chances of success.
However, the single best thing you can do to help preserve evidence is to seek medical attention and follow your treatment plan. The insurance company will look for any reason to reduce or deny your claim. If you miss medical appointments or didn’t follow your doctor’s treatment plan, they will claim that you are not as injured as you say.
While you focus on your recovery, we will handle the task of preserving all the vital evidence for your case. We will request copies of your medical records, police reports, and other documents. We will also secure and locate the truck to preserve as evidence.
One of the best ways we can secure and preserve evidence after a truck accident is to send a spoliation letter. This letter is a written notice to all parties directing them to preserve evidence related to your legal claim. This mentions specific evidence to preserve, such as the black box data or electronic logging device information. The letter warns against tampering or destroying this evidence. If the trucking company fails to preserve the evidence requested, they can face serious charges and sanctions in court.
Trucking accidents involve catastrophic injuries and damages. The trucking company may realize they are looking at millions in damages. Because of this, they will fight aggressively to reduce their liabilities in any way possible. This may include:
- Pinning some of the blame on you
- Pointing fingers at the truck manufacturer or shipping company
- Blaming other motorists
- Destroying evidence
- Falsifying records or documents
- Examining your social media accounts to claim you aren’t injured
At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our trucking accident lawyers know how to fight these tactics. We have successfully defended clients against trucking companies’ unscrupulous tricks.
After a serious truck accident, you deserve to have a team of lawyers on your side fighting for you. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we work tirelessly for our injured clients to help them build a solid case for compensation. This often means working quickly to gather and preserve valuable evidence before it is lost or destroyed. With seven offices in Arkansas and Tennessee —Little Rock, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, and Memphis—our truck injury lawyers can tackle cases from across both states. No matter if you live in Memphis or are just passing through, we can help you!