If you were hurt in a truck accident caused by a negligent trucker, you must begin your investigation immediately after the wreck. That is when the trucking company’s insurance company will start their investigation. You will put yourself at a serious disadvantage if you do not retain an experienced truck accident attorney right away. Here, we discuss some important elements of a thorough truck accident investigation.
What Are Key Steps in a Truck Accident Investigation?
A lawyer who handles truck accident cases will understand the unique state and federal laws and regulations governing truckers and trucking companies, the challenges specific to these cases, and will be able to identify the important issues in your case. He can also take steps to investigate your accident before vital evidence you need is lost or destroyed. Key elements of his inquiry should include:
- Spoliation letter. Your attorney should send the trucking company a letter immediately to advise them of your claim and to demand that they preserve certain evidence important to your case. The spoliation letter is critical to prevent the company from destroying documents and other evidence you will need.
- Accident scene visit. If you contact your attorney soon enough, he may be able to visit the crash scene to get a better sense of what happened and to look for evidence that may have been overlooked.
- Truck inspection. An inspection of the truck should be conducted before it is repaired or disposed of. Inspecting the inside and outside of the cab and trailer could help determine the cause of the crash. Your attorney may want to hire an expert to inspect the truck.
- Truck Driver’s log. Under federal regulations, the truck driver is required to complete a truck driver’s log on a daily basis that can show important information—such as his driving time, when he took breaks, and when he stopped for meals. Your attorney will want to examine the driver’s log to determine if the trucker was driving longer than allowed by law or otherwise violated federal regulations. However, some truckers alter their logs, so your attorney will want to compare the log to other information, such as expense receipts and cell phone records to determine if it is accurate.
- Truck driver qualification file. The trucking company is required to maintain a truck driver qualification file for the trucker, which can be used by your attorney to determine if he was qualified to drive a truck under state and federal laws.
- Truck’s black box. The truck involved in your wreck most likely had a black box or other electronic on-board recorder that recorded vital information, such as the truck’s speed and the braking usage. Your attorney will need to obtain this data quickly before it is taped over and be certain that it is not “accidentally” damaged during its download.
If you or a family member were injured in a truck wreck that was not your fault, we urge you to retain an attorney immediately. To learn how our experienced truck accident attorneys can help you, call our office to schedule your free consultation.