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What Information To Collect After a Truck Accident

Published on Jun 18, 2024 at 3:41 pm in Truck Accidents.

What information to collect after a truck accident

You were involved in a trucking accident here in Charleston or elsewhere in West Virginia. As someone who may have been in a crash before, you may think you know the basics of what to do after one, including calling 911 to make a police report, seeking medical attention, taking pictures, and writing down information about witnesses and the other motorists involved. While those same steps apply in trucking accident cases, there are other things you need to do.

While you can file a truck accident claim with just the information described above on hand, that’s not everything you need to prove your case. Instead, it’s necessary to gather additional items of evidentiary value to do that. Keep reading where we’ll share what other information to collect after a truck accident.

Evidence To Quickly Preserve After a Collision With a Tractor-Trailer

While a police report and photographs of the crash scene and property damage can be important in initiating a claim, there generally needs to be more evidence if you want to paint a clear and convincing picture of a defendant’s negligence.

Items of evidentiary value you should consider acting fast to preserve before they’re potentially overwritten, discarded, or destroyed, and the reasons for doing so include:

  • Truck inspection records: This could include pre- and post-trip logs as well as mechanical repair documentation or annual reports. These may establish a timeline for when the truck was deemed to be in sound working order. Also, reports showing the purchase and installation of aftermarket parts could be impactful if they’re believed to have caused the crash.
  • Personnel records: Included in this category may be licensing and certification documentation, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) physical records, driving records and disciplinary action information, alcohol and drug test results, and details about whether references were contacted before hiring occurred.
  • Event data recorder (EDR) data: Also known as a truck’s “black box” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this unit logs various details both 20 seconds before and after a wreck, including a trucker’s speed preceding the crash, whether they applied their brake, etc.
  • Fleet company records: Correspondence between a trucking company dispatcher and a trucker, violations issued or disciplinary action taken by government agencies, and maintenance records all fit into this category.
  • Data from an electronic logging device (ELD): This records how long a trucker was on duty, which can prove effective in showing whether they may have violated hours of service regulations.
  • Load documents: Bills of lading showing the type of cargo along with its weight. This can be particularly helpful if there are concerns that the load’s weight or potential distribution within the trailer contributed to your crash.

Truckers and their employers, the trucking companies, may attempt to destroy these pieces of evidence if it paints them in a negative light, thus making it challenging to recover compensation.

Preserving Valuable Evidence After Charleston Crash Involving a Truck

It’s necessary to move quickly to preserve evidence following a truck accident. This is one of the reasons why truck accident attorneys like ours discourage crash victims from trying to gather evidence on their own. There’s a significant learning curve one has to undergo to determine how to get one’s hands on evidence, including understanding how spoliation letters and court orders work. By the time you figure out how to do so, what you’re looking to collect could no longer be available.

Understanding the Role of a Spoliation Letter in a Tractor-Trailer Collision Investigation

Here at DiPiero, Simmons, McGinley & Bastress, we often send out spoliation letters outlining the fundamentals of the case and requesting that recipients, like truckers, fleet companies, and their respective insurers, preserve the different types of evidence we outlined above, including electronic data, printed records, auto parts, trucks and trailers, and more. Our attorneys or experts we hire then review the evidence compiled during our own investigative process.

Should the recipient of the spoliation letter not comply with our request, it may open the door for us to take further legal action against them.

When Court Orders Are Necessary for Preserving Evidence in a Truck Crash Case

A court-ordered mandate that the defendant preserves evidence is sometimes used in a truck accident case. The court order may be in the form of a temporary restraining order or protective order. If the trucking company or other named defendant continues to tamper with evidence relevant to the case, they will be in violation of the law. By filing a motion for a court order, your truck accident attorney can alert any potential defendant that they are seriously pursuing the case and will not accept the destruction of pertinent evidence.

Potential Liable Parties for Tractor-Trailer Collisions

Multiple parties may be held liable in a trucking accident case. By the time a truck is loaded and begins its journey to deliver cargo, it has already passed through the hands of many people responsible for trucking safety. A failure to properly inspect, maintain, load, secure cargo, fuel, or follow traffic laws can all result in a devastating road accident. One negligent person’s actions can cause another’s fatality, even weeks or months later.

When it comes to big rig accidents, West Virginia law allows injured victims to file a claim against one or more negligent parties. This may involve legal action against:

  • Truck drivers
  • Trucking companies
  • Shipping and loading companies
  • Parties responsible for repairing or maintaining vehicles
  • Truck owners (when different from the driver or company)
  • Truck parts manufacturing companies

At DiPiero, Simmons, McGinley & Bastress, we have extensive experience helping individuals who suffered debilitating injuries in truck accidents. We want to help you, too. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case and your rights in it.