Trucking accidents are always complex and devastating scenes. When a 60,000 pound vehicle collides with a comparatively miniscule passenger car, there is almost always massive property damage, personal injury, and often fatalities. When emergency responders arrive on these scenes, their primary priority is to save lives and treat injuries. Though police will also begin an investigation into the cause of the accident, an experienced attorney has the resources to delve into all aspects of every potential cause for the accident.
One of the most important places to begin in an accident investigation is with the procedures at the trucking company. A number of missteps and negligent action can contribute to an accident.
- Negligent Hiring: A trucking company may not have adequately checked employee backgrounds or qualifications. Truck drivers may have been licensed in many states, so trucking companies must investigate each potential employee’s background thoroughly to make sure that there were no drug, alcohol, or substance abuse violations in his past. Trucking companies must also keep up with their own substance abuse and alcohol training and testing.
- Failure to Enforce Regulations: There are strict Hours of Service regulations that employers must enforce. If a driver is encouraged to work beyond what is legal, fatigue may contribute to an accident, and the employer may in turn be held responsible. Your attorney can look into logbooks, company policies, and delivery schedules in an attempt to establish this.
- Failure to Maintain Vehicle: A trucking company must inspect, maintain, and repair a truck. Failure to do so can lead to company liability for an accident. After an accident has already occurred, it is important that the truck be properly inspected in order to uncover any mechanical failures. An experienced vehicle inspector will test all systems and be able to pinpoint any contributing factors to the accident.
Black Box Recorder
The black box in a truck is a critical piece of the puzzle as well. This electronic on-board recorder contains valuable information that may uncover important aspects of your accident. The black box records the minutes leading up to and following an accident, and will detail various aspects of the accident, such as:
- Speed and Acceleration
- Use of Cruise Control
- Point of Impact
- Whether the driver used hard brakes
Unfortunately, the information contained in the black box is not permanent; it is recorded over in a continuous loop. Therefore it is critical that you retain an attorney who can request this information while it is still available. It may prove invaluable to your case.
The Scene of an Accident
While looking into records, driver action, and the actions of the trucking company are important, there is no substitute for proper scene processing. Witnesses to an accident can provide details that neither the driver nor any electronic records can provide. It is crucial that witnesses be interviewed at the scene or as close thereafter as possible.
Witnesses have a view of the accident that none of the involved parties have. They can speak to the circumstances of the accident and the actions of the parties involved. They may provide information about:
- What seemed to initiate the accident (an external factor, or driver action/inaction?)
- External circumstances such as road and weather conditions
- Confirmation or contradiction of what the drivers say happened. Was one vehicle following too closely? Did one cross the center line? Cut the other off?
If possible, get the names and contact information of the witnesses to your accident. Of course, the safety of all involved in the accident comes first. Only collect this information after you and the other parties involved have received medical treatment.
Other circumstances of the accident scene must be considered as well. Accident reconstruction experts can look at how the vehicles collided, and the skid marks on the road to reconstruct how an accident occurred.
Contact our Attorneys for Help
If you or a loved one have been involved in a serious trucking accident, the investigation of the vehicles and the accident scene can help establish liability and prove your case. Serious motor vehicle accidents can result in life-changing injuries that require expensive medical treatment. You may be out of work and unable to resume your daily activities. Adequate compensation can help you get your life back on track. Let us help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.