Crashes involving commercial-sized trucks have the potential to be catastrophic. Victims can suffer permanent, severe injuries; some do not survive the crash. Considering how much damage can be done in these accidents, it is crucial to determine what happened and who is liable when they occur.
To do this, it will be critical to collect as much evidence as possible.
What to look for
After a crash, even the smallest detail can shed light on cause and responsibility. As such, parties involved in the crash will want to examine:
- Trucker log books to determine whether fatigue may have been a factor
- Truck inspection and repair records
- Driver drug and alcohol tests to measure potential impairment
- Skid marks or signs of evasive maneuvers
- Cellphone records
- Vehicle black boxes
- Surveillance video from dash cams, security cameras or personal videos
- Witness statements
- Accident reconstructionist notes
- Photos of the crash scene
- Police reports
These bits of information, when available and properly collected, can reveal what caused the accident.
Challenges that can arise
Unfortunately, securing these pieces of evidence after a serious trucking accident can be more difficult than people expect. Often, victims are taken from the scene immediately for medical attention, so they are not there to take pictures or talk to police or witnesses.
Further, trucking companies and the companies that insure them want to mitigate their expenses after a crash. Therefore, they may miss or mishandle evidence they collect. It is also possible for individuals to misrepresent the details of the accident.
Because injured passengers and their families typically do not have the resources or opportunity to investigate a crash and secure evidence on their own, many of them work with attorneys. Legal representatives can investigate the crash and scrutinize evidence on behalf of the victim.
Fault and compensation
It is also important to note that figuring out exactly what happened in an accident can have a direct impact on any compensation victims may be eligible to receive, especially if multiple parties are at fault.
In accordance with state comparative negligence rules, damages you receive will be reduced based on how much you were at fault. If you were more than 50 percent to blame, you cannot recover any damages.