Proving negligence is a vital step to take when seeking financial compensation after a trucking accident. However, the process of collecting and preserving evidence in trucking accidents may be more complicated than with other types of automobile accidents largely because there are usually multiple parties involved. Trucking accidents are not an uncommon occurrence in California. In 2019, the Golden State accounted for the second-highest number of truck accident fatalities in the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Evidence serves as building blocks of the injured party’s legal case when seeking compensation after a truck accident. At Karlin & Karlin, our skilled trucking accident attorneys help clients collect all available pieces of evidence to prove their injuries and losses and take the necessary steps to preserve that evidence as soon as possible. Consider calling (888) 365-155 to schedule a free case evaluation.
Preserving Black Box Data After a Trucking Accident
While there are many types of evidence that should be gathered and preserved following a trucking accident, black box data is arguably the most critical piece. A black box is the main source of information regarding the collision and the truck itself. Most commercial trucks are equipped with these so-called black boxes, which provide crucial evidence about accidents. The truck’s black box captures operational data and provides information about:
- Whether or not the truck driver applied the brakes
- The truck’s speed before and during the collision
- The direction the truck was traveling
- The length of time the trucker had been on the road
- The steering wheel movement before and during the accident
- The truck’s gear shifts
The black box may also contain the truck’s daily inspection records and any reports filed by the truck driver to the trucking company. Since black box data can be an invaluable piece of evidence in a truck accident case, the injured party might want to seek help from an experienced trucking accident lawyer to preserve the evidence before the trucker or trucking company destroys or tampers with the box.
Other Types of Evidence To Preserve After a Trucking Accident
In addition to collecting black box data, preserving evidence in trucking accidents also involves other physical and electronic records that trucking companies are legally required to retain for a certain period of time. For example, according to the FMCSA, federal law requires motor carriers to keep drivers’ records of duty status and supporting documentation for six months. Trucking companies must also keep a copy of the electronic logging device (ELD) records separate from the original data for six months. Other types of evidence that the injured party will want to preserve following a truck crash include records of:
- The truck driver’s hiring and training
- The truck driver’s daily logs
- The vehicle’s daily inspections
- The vehicle’s routine inspection and maintenance
- The vehicle’s repairs and tests
- Past accidents involving the truck driver
The injured party, or his or her attorney, should gather and preserve the truck’s black box data and the above-mentioned records to prevent the destruction or spoliation of these crucial pieces of evidence. Often, trucking companies go to extreme lengths in an effort to avoid liability for trucking accidents involving their truckers and vehicles. A trucking company may attempt to clear certain data from the black box or reset the device entirely, falsify records, or simply destroy relevant pieces of evidence. The accident victim may find having the assistance of an experienced attorney at Karlin & Karlin beneficial when gathering and preserving evidence in trucking accidents.
How To Preserve Evidence After a Truck Accident
Preserving evidence following a crash may be a daunting task, especially when the victim is focusing on physical recovery. However, failure to preserve evidence and prevent the destruction of evidence can be a costly mistake. An injured person, therefore, might benefit from hiring an experienced attorney to help with accessing and preserving relevant records and documents in a timely manner. Preserving evidence after a truck accident typically involves following five important steps.
Sending a Spoliation Letter to the Trucking Company
Once the trucking company receives a spoliation letter, the company has a legal obligation to preserve all pieces of evidence listed in the letter. Trucking companies that destroy or tamper with evidence in violation of the spoliation letter can face severe penalties.
Filing a Temporary Restraining Order
Filing a temporary restraining order against the trucking company may be necessary when there is a risk of the destruction of evidence. The restraining order would prohibit the trucking company from destroying the listed pieces of evidence while the legal case is pending.
Collecting Evidence at the Scene of the Trucking Accident
Any evidence at the scene of the accident will disappear within hours or days following the crash. A comprehensive investigation may be necessary to collect and document all available pieces of evidence at the scene of the trucking accident. Such evidence usually includes photos of skid marks, vehicle damage, and signage.
Hiring an Accident Reconstruction Expert
Testimony from expert witnesses can play a crucial role in determining liability for the trucking accident and helping the injured party obtain any compensation to which he or she is entitled. Accident reconstruction experts inspect the scene of the accident and study all available pieces of evidence to develop a conclusion about the cause of the crash.
Talking to Witnesses
Witness statements can serve as important evidence in a truck accident case. If there were witnesses, collect the names and contact information of anyone who saw how the accident happened.
Learn How A California Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Today
The importance of preserving evidence in trucking accidents cannot be overstated. Accident victims should take swift action following a crash and follow all necessary steps to preserve evidence. While California law gives accident victims two years to file a personal injury lawsuit, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1, waiting too long can diminish the strength of the victim’s legal case and result in the destruction or disappearance of critical pieces of evidence. Our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Karlin & Karlin understand the importance of promptly gathering and preserving evidence following a trucking accident. We are dedicated to helping clients build their legal cases and fighting for the compensation they deserve. Consider scheduling a free case review by calling (888) 365-1555.