Truck Accident Evidence: What Do You Need for a Successful Truck Accident Claim?

truck accident investigation

Few things are more dangerous than a truck accident. Crashes involving these huge, heavy vehicles often leave victims with severe, even life-changing injuries, extensive medical bills, and lost wages.

If you were in a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, you’re entitled to seek compensation. However, to successfully recover damages, you’ll need evidence proving who was liable. We look at what goes into an investigation and what truck accident evidence you need for a successful claim.

Why an Investigation Is Crucial for Collecting Truck Accident Evidence

It only takes a second for a truck driver to take their eyes off the road or for cargo to come loose for a major accident to happen. The size and weight of semi-trucks often make an accident far more severe than any fender bender.

Because of this, truck drivers, companies, and manufacturers are held to a higher standard than other vehicles on the road.

Showing that the person or party responsible for your accident has breached trucking regulations gives you a much better chance of securing the compensation you deserve.

An investigation allows you to gather this crucial truck accident evidence.

Country-wide regulations are set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and include regular drug and alcohol testing and ensuring drivers are appropriately qualified.

If a trucker causes your accident because they are driving while intoxicated or aren’t qualified to drive that specific class of vehicle, truck accident evidence might include mandatory blood test results or license information.

However, additional laws are often implemented at a state level. For example, the Texas Transportation Code governs extended loads and the maximum weight of commercial vehicles in the Lone Star State.

Unfortunately, many drivers and companies attempt to get around these regulations:

  • An unqualified trucker may slip through the rigorous testing and qualification process.
  • A qualified driver might hide their bad habits, such as speeding or checking social media while driving 65 miles per hour.
  • A driver may take stimulants to stay awake on a long shift.
  • A trucking company may encourage employees to work well over the allowed limits to meet a deadline or get ahead.
  • A trucking company might not check its fleet as often as it should or push trucks to their limits to avoid costly repairs and maintenance.

It’s not difficult to imagine the fallout of breaching regulations. If a truck company fails to check a truck’s tire pressures before sending a driver out on a delivery, the tire could blow, leaving the truck coasting along the highway — right into a family car. If a driver speeds to hit a deadline, they might not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting a car coming out at an intersection.

The complexity of trucking law makes it crucial to seek advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney understands the regulations drivers and companies must adhere to and can conduct an investigation to identify if they’ve violated them. During this process, they can collect the truck accident evidence vital for a successful claim.

Altered or Destroyed Evidence

Truck accident evidence is the key to a successful personal injury claim, but it’s not uncommon for specific evidence to be altered or even destroyed.

Driver records, GPS data, and black box data can be damning to a truck driver or company, showing that a trucker was speeding or working for longer than permitted.

Accident investigators working for the truck company responsible might move a stick shift to indicate the truck was in neutral. In some cases, truck records may be doctored after the fact, so unless you act fast and recover evidence or retrieve police photos taken at the scene before it was compromised, it may be lost for good.

Such behavior isn’t necessarily illegal, either. The FMCSA mandates that motor carriers retain electronic logging device (ELD) data for just six months. After that, it can be safely destroyed. With the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Texas being two years and these claims potentially taking a long time to investigate, crucial evidence could go missing long before you even bring a claim.

What Truck Accident Evidence to Gather for Your Case

To understand and prove who is responsible for your truck accident, you must first establish what caused it.

A truck accident can be caused by design or manufacturing flaws, poor maintenance, errors in hiring or supervising drivers, ignoring service restrictions, or driver error.

A thorough truck accident investigation is crucial for identifying what factors led to the accident. During this process, your lawyer will collect evidence — filing subpoenas if needed — work with experts to reconstruct the events leading up to the crash, and interview witnesses to the accident.

Some of the key pieces of truck accident evidence they will collect are:

Videos and Photographs

Videos and photographs of the crash site, including damage to vehicles, debris, and the injuries sustained, are crucial for a successful claim. Since damaged vehicles are quickly moved and the scene cleared after an accident, photographic evidence preserves the scene while the truck accident investigation is underway.

Truck Driver Records

Truck driver records highlight a truck driver’s history and qualifications, while receipts and pre-trip inspections can indicate how long a driver has been working or how long it’s been since they’ve had a break.

One of the most critical pieces of truck accident evidence a lawyer will refer to in an investigation is the driver qualification file (DQF). FMCSA regulations require trucking companies to maintain a DQF for every driver they employ or contract.

Included in a DQF are:

  • Employment history
  • Accident history
  • Drug and alcohol test results
  • Service hours
  • Qualifications
  • Licenses (certain types of trucks require specific licenses, so a driver may not be qualified to drive all trucks)
  • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Medical history.

Black Box Data

Black box data, also known as event data, can show when a driver braked their vehicle and the speed they were traveling at, and what gear a driver was in before and during the impact. This is incredibly valuable evidence for a truck compensation claim, which is why truck companies are keen to get rid of it if there’s a chance they could be found liable.

GPS Data

Like black box data, GPS data can show if a driver has violated truck regulations. It can reveal a truck’s location, speed, and length of time on the road. If GPS data shows a driver hasn’t rested in hours, or they’re reaching their destinations faster than possible at the legal speed limit, it could prove they were responsible for your accident.

Testimony

During an accident investigation, your lawyer will consult several experts to strengthen your case. These might include healthcare providers, forensic toxicologists, and reconstruction experts, who can identify the factors that led to the crash and indicate liability. They’ll also speak to witnesses to the accident, including bystanders, first responders, and other drivers involved.

Police Reports

Before an independent investigation begins, the police will arrive at the scene shortly after the accident and conduct their own investigation. They will create a crash report during this, which provides an overview of the accident, who was involved, the damage caused, any citations issued, and potential contributing factors, such as speeding, cell phone use, intoxication, auto defects, and more.

While you shouldn’t rely on this document alone to establish how the accident occurred, it can be useful for establishing liability, making it a helpful piece of truck accident evidence to have in your arsenal.

Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

Truck companies often go to great lengths to protect themselves and their drivers from liability after a crash. They’ll often refute claims that they’re responsible for your injuries and use aggressive tactics to pay out as little as possible — including removing vital evidence.

To make sure you get the compensation you deserve, it’s crucial to seek advice from a truck accident attorney as early as possible.

Our truck accident lawyers in Texas have experience winning these types of cases. We’re well-versed in complex trucking law, negotiating with stubborn insurance companies, and working with experts to ensure an investigation uncovers key truck accident evidence to strengthen your case.

You could be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries. To find out how much you might be able to claim, contact our dedicated truck accident lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio and receive a free, no-obligation case review.

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