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In a truck accident lawsuit, a picture is worth a thousand words

Written by Steve Gursten Posted September 20th, 2016

Litigation tip No. 4: Attorneys must obtain the photos and videos of a truck wreck

trucking-litigation-tips-no-4

In continuing our series of truck accident litigation tips for attorneys, today we’d like to cover why it can be so important to get photos and videos of the truck accident scene and the truck itself.

Why are photos of the cab important after a wreck?

I remember one case not too long ago where after the inspection of the defendant’s semi-truck, I was able to amend the lawsuit pleadings to add counts for negligent supervision and entrustment. The cab was strewn with all sorts of garbage and debris. But what led to the amended lawsuit pleadings were the dozens of empty energy drink bottles and energy shot vials all over the cab.

A picture, as the saying go, is worth a thousand words. That picture told the jury more about this driver and this company than I could in an hour.

This type of evidence can be invaluable. Unfortunately, it’s also often missed because many attorneys never inspect the truck after a crash. And so they miss what can be very important evidence- including evidence that can open up entirely new legal claims in a very serious injury truck accident lawsuit.

Why photos of the scene are so important?

Simply put, people forget that these tractor-trailers are like moving brick walls.

Additionally, pictures and videos, including dashcam videos, can help attorneys capture elements of a wreck you would not have discovered from a police report alone.

These are the human elements of loss, that is ultimately what a civil personal injury lawsuit is about. Think about the image of a teddy bear lying amongst the wreck, or skid marks that prove a trucker was speeding or wasn’t paying attention.

Where can an attorney or investigator get truck accident photos and video?

Here’s a list of the sources you should consider investigating:

  • Law enforcement photos,
  • Dashcam video,
  • Store cameras,
  • Firemen who carry cameras,
  • News media,
  • Cell phone photos made by witnesses,
  • TDOT video, and,
  • Photos made by truck drivers who are required to keep cameras in accident kits.

Don’t delay in requesting ‘dashcam’ police videos

Most police cruisers now run in-car video whenever they’re at a serious truck accident scene. These “dashcam” police videos are generally only kept for six months, and not listed as being used on the police report itself. A separate request for these videos must be made.

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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