There are several key differences between an accident involving a large truck and an accident involving passenger vehicles. Some of those differences are obvious – such as the extreme damage a large truck can cause. But there are other differences you may not be familiar with or have considered. For example, when a collision occurs involving trucks there are unique types of evidence connected to the trucking company that should be collected and preserved which can be used to determine liability and negligence, as well as federal safety laws and regulations. In order to recover compensation for damages and injuries as a result of a collision with a large truck, it is important to find and preserve evidence to support your truck accident claim. The evidence you are able to find, and preserve will directly affect the outcome of your injury and damages claim.
Most large trucking companies have significant resources available that they will use to minimize or eliminate your claim for damages. They may have a law firm on retainer that handles legal issues that may arise, as well as accident investigators, who can be dispatched within hours to the scene of an accident and gather evidence. They may also have a close relationship with their insurance carrier as a result of interacting on a regular or frequent basis. In order to level the playing field and tip the scales in your favor, you should contact a knowledgeable and respected Florida attorney immediately following an accident involving a large truck. Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. will ensure that you understand what you are entitled to recover, what you can expect to happen in the coming weeks or months, and provide sound, professional legal advice.
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Resources Available to Support Your Negligence Claim
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency with the Department of Transportation, is tasked with ensuring safety in motor carrier operations. One way this is accomplished is through tough enforcement of federal safety regulations. Your attorney should be familiar with these regulations which mandate driver’s license requirements, drug testing, carrier requirements and responsibilities, driver qualifications, driver’s hours of operation, and the inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles.
In addition to federal safety regulations, there are federal records retention policies that establish how long a company must retain documents before they can be destroyed. Under the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, trucking companies are required to keep logbooks for six-months before they can be destroyed. This includes driver hours of operation logs, fuel receipts, and weigh tickets. These records often establish that a driver may have been driving more daily hours than permitted, driving without taking the necessary rest stops or exceeding speed limits. Failure to preserve the evidence can result in the destruction of crucial information that can prove logbook violations and violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, both of which can support your claim for negligence against the driver or trucking company.
Truck Maintenance Records
The truck’s maintenance records will show if there were any mechanical problems with the truck that may have caused or contributed to the collision. If there were issues with the truck that were not corrected, these records can be used to demonstrate that the driver and/or trucking company acted negligently.
Demand for Preservation of Evidence
It is highly likely that after six months, those records will be destroyed, and should this happen, your chances of recovering the full compensation you are entitled to may be reduced significantly and permanently. In order to stop the destruction of key evidence, a formal Demand for Preservation of Evidence must be made and served on the trucking company.
An experienced, knowledgeable attorney will ensure all of the important evidence you need is included in the demand for preservation. The Demand should include:
- the driver’s and co-driver’s daily logbooks
- vehicle and equipment daily inspection reports
- maintenance records for the truck involved
- dispatch records for the driver, including phone records and the driver’s call-in logs
- fuel, lodging, and food receipts
- weigh station receipts
- requests for reimbursement and supporting documentation
- bills of lading, manifests, routing slips, waybills, and daily schedules
- payroll records
- training materials, the driver’s qualification file
- results of drug or alcohol tests taken by the driver
Electronic Control Modules and Event Data Recorders
In addition to the above documentation, two pieces of physical evidence should be preserved as well. Event Data Recorders and Electronic Control Modules or “the black box,” when referred to together. The black box tracks and records various information about what the vehicle did prior to the collision and during the collision. Analysis of this data can provide valuable information about the vehicle, such as:
- speed of the truck at the moment of impact and just prior to impact
- the direction of travel
- status of critical truck systems
- whether airbags deployed
- brake system
As well as valuable information about the driver, such as:
- Were brakes applied and for how long?
- Was corrective steering action taken?
- Was the proper speed of the truck maintained?
- Was the cruise control activated? And, if so, for how long?
- How long was the driver on the road?
Truck companies may purge or wipe this data from their systems as frequently as every 30 days, so it is imperative that the Demand for Preservation is submitted promptly after an accident.
How You Can Help Your Truck Accident Claim Succeed
There are several things you can do that are advantageous to your truck accident claim.
- Check with your attorney before having any repairs done to your vehicle
- Keep any documents and bills related to the accident.
- Attend all doctor, therapy appointments, and follow the prescribed treatment plan.
- Find a lawyer that is right for you.
- Do not talk to any defense attorneys, claims adjusters or insurance companies – refer them to your attorney.
- Stay off social media! Do not post any information, photos, videos, or any other information about the accident on any public forum.
Contact Us Today
Having a knowledgeable, trusted personal injury attorney working for you can make the difference in ensuring you get full compensation for your injuries and damages. Your attorney will know where to find the evidence you need to support your claim. At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., we listen to you and want to hear your story!
When you contact us, we will take the time to get to know you and understand all the ways your life has been affected by your accident. We pride ourselves on being empathetic, compassionate, and caring. This is just one of the reasons we are Florida’s top-rated personal injury attorneys – providing personalized legal advice addressed to meet your individual needs.
From the first call, you will know that we will be there with you, helping you to navigate through what can be a complex, difficult, and emotionally challenging time. We strive to provide you with all the information and resources you need. We are dedicated to making your life easier. From start to finish, we will promptly answer all your questions and provide the best legal advice, so you can make informed decisions about your future.
We build trust through open, timely communication, and straightforward legal advice. We are an award-winning, established personal injury law firm, fighting for our clients for over 60 years, and have recovered more than $145 million in awards.
Contact us today and we will fight to get the results you deserve.