Evidence in semi-truck crash cases
There is more to examine in big-rig accidents than in car crashes
Because compliance with safety regulations and industry standards is such a significant part of handling semi-truck crash cases, the evidence that is important in these cases goes far beyond what is typical for car crash cases. You need an attorney who can dissect the evidence and use it to your advantage.
This evidence can be divided into categories involving the driver, the vehicle(s) and the load.
Semi-truck crash evidence involving the driver
When it comes to truck accidents, evidence involving the driver includes:
- Driver’s qualifications file (which is required by the FMCSR to include specific items)
- Driver’s training file
- Driver’s hours of service documentation (logs or the equivalent and supporting documentation)
- Driver inspection records
- Post-collision drug and alcohol screening
Trucking accident evidence involving the vehicle
Semi-truck accident evidence related to the commercial vehicles includes:
- Downloads of the onboard systems (engine control module, brake module, etc.)
- Maintenance history documentation
- Inspection history documentation
- Data from onboard communications systems and GPS tracking systems
Load and cargo evidence in semi-truck crashes
In a truck accident, evidence related to the load and cargo includes:
- Bills of lading
- Weight tickets
- Trip envelopes
- Dispatch instructions
- Delivery documents
Trucking industry documentation requirements
Some of the above documents are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) to be kept only for specific time periods (for example, logbooks are required to be kept for six months), but best practices dictate that when a commercial truck collision occurs all documents related to the driver, the vehicle(s) and the load be preserved at the risk of spoliation sanctions. However, if there you wait too long to hire an attorney, some of the documentation may be disposed of before your lawyer has a chance to request it. (This is one of the reasons you should hire a trucking accident attorney as soon as possible.)
The importance of evidence in trucking lawsuits
The purpose of evaluating the various types of evidence in a semi-truck crash is generally to demonstrate that the driver and the trucking company were or were not in compliance with safety regulations. This evidence can also help piece together what the truck driver, vehicle(s) and cargo were doing in the minutes, hours and days before a collision.
The sooner you have an attorney, the sooner he or she can begin to collect, preserve and examine evidence related to your semi-truck crash. Unfortunately a delay could hurt your lawsuit. Contact our experienced commercial vehicle accident attorneys today to have a no-obligation conversation about your case. Call 800-777-0028 today.