How to Handle Truck Accident Cases
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident due to the negligent or reckless actions of another, you may be wondering how to recover maximum compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
The nationwide truck accident attorneys of Zinda Law Group have a breadth of experience in handling these types of cases. The following are the six most important steps to take in your 18-wheeler accident claim.
1. Act Quickly
Invest the resources necessary to front-load your investigation and to preserve evidence. It is critical to investigate the crash scene, the truck itself, and all other matters concerning the wreck as quickly as possible. Skid marks disappear, witnesses move, and nefarious employees may alter the truck to conceal possible causes of the collision.
2. Look at Filing Suit Right Away
Not only does this set the tone and let the other side know you are serious, more importantly, it gives you access to the most powerful weapon in your case: discovery.
3. Get the Right Evidence
Know what to look for:
- Electronic Control Module “Black Box”: The Electronic Control Module, also known as the “black box,” holds data on how the truck has been driven. This can include highest speed, average speed, time driven, hard stops, and speed before hard stops. This can give you powerful ammunition if the information does not match the driver’s logs.
- Tire Tread: The wear and tear on a tire can indicate the safety or condition of the vehicle;
- Brakes: Many trucks on the roadway are over their hours of service and have faulty or defective brakes;
- Driver’s Logs: The logs will show whether the driver and company were in violation of the driver’s hours of service and if the driver was overworked;
- Driver Qualification File: This file will show whether the driver and company were meeting the legal criteria for qualified drivers;
- Scene Inspection: A scene inspection gives a first-hand impression of what happened at the crash, including tire marks, road gauges, and other crucial evidence;
- Vehicle Inspection: Inspecting the truck allows you to assess the damage, and see if the truck was tampered with or improperly used;
- Cell Phone Data: This data can indicate whether a driver was on his cell phone at the time of the incident, which is usually illegal under regulations;
- Social Media: Posts on social media often show whether the company and the driver take compliance seriously, and may lead you to evidence that shows the driver was at fault.
4. Hire Experts Early
Ideally, you should hire the best experts possible to investigate the truck and the scene or, at a minimum, to consult on the case. Some experts are commonly hired regarding:
- Accident Reconstruction: An expert recreates what happened at the crash to help determine fault;
- Trucking Policy & Procedures: An expert will look at a company’s policies and procedures to see how they measure up to the federal regulations;
- Mechanical Expert: A mechanical expert looks at the actual vehicle for defects and to see if the vehicle is in working order;
- Safety / Transportation Industry Expert: An expert will look at the Code of Federal Regulations and other industry standards to determine if the driver and company were complying with industry standards.
5. Find Statutory Violations
Expert-level knowledge of the federal rules and regulations that regulate commercial motor vehicles is crucial to analyzing the strength and value of a case.
Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) covers many of these regulations including:
i. Cell Phone Use;
ii. Tire Tread;
iii. Drivers’ Consecutive Hours on the Road;
iv. Inspections and Maintenance;
v. Medical Examination Requirements; and
vi. Criteria for Driver Qualifications.
Many states adopt national regulations that treat intrastate drivers similarly to interstate motor carriers. Reference your jurisdiction’s transportation code to ensure you do not miss a potential cause of action;
6. Budget Your Case
Trucking cases are complex, expensive, and will require substantial resources. Properly building your case will require a significant upfront financial commitment. The cost of an initial investigation can run into the thousands, from downloading the black box data (approximately $3,500) to hiring the experts necessary to build your case.
Nationwide Truck Accident Lawyers
Zinda Law Group has a proven track record of handling 18-wheeler and commercial vehicle cases in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and throughout the United States. We can help our clients investigate the accident, find experts, and seek the compensation they deserve.
If you need help with your trucking accident case or have questions, please feel free to contact our firm at 800-863-5312 for a free consultation.