What Are the Key Parts of an Investigation into a Truck Crash?
Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Feb 28, 2019 in Truck Accidents News
When a truck accident occurs, victims may have legal recourse against the driver or other parties that were negligent and contributed to the accident. However, one of the most important factors in pursuing compensation is to conduct a thorough investigation.
Below, learn more about the keys to a thorough truck accident investigation. Our New Jersey truck accident attorneys are here to assist you if you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck. Contact us today for a free, no obligation case review.
After an accident with a commercial truck, call 9-1-1 right away. The police will come to the scene and conduct an accident investigation. You will be given a copy of the police report or may obtain one from the responding law enforcement agency later.
Police reports are an important piece of evidence for a car accident claim. Unfortunately, they are more useful for minor accidents and not for the significant and complicated damages associated with a truck accident.
What the Police Report Does Not Contain
Police reports are merely a tool for record keeping, and do not contain all the information you need to hold a truck driver, trucking company or other party liable for your accident. Police reports lack the following critical information for your claim:
- Expert witness testimony
- Proper accident scene analysis
- Facts about the accident – the report contains the responding officer’s opinions
Another problem with the police report is the trucking company may try to have it disallowed from being heard by a jury. The trucking company may try to argue the officer was not qualified. If the officer testifies, an expert can be brought by the trucking company to refute what the officer is saying.
Records for the Truck Driver
In a truck accident claim, it is important to obtain records for the truck driver. All trucking companies are required to keep a driver qualification file (DQF) for all drivers. This information is very important to your investigation.
The following items are required in a truck driver’s DQF:
- Driving records and accident history for the driver and the truck
- Road test records
- Employment applications
- Medical certifications for the driver
- Driver employment history
- Results of drug and alcohol testing
- Service hours records
- Training certifications
- Annual reviews
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Personnel records
A skilled truck accident attorney will be able to obtain this information from a trucking company. The company usually will not hand this over to you easily. You may need an attorney to file a subpoena.
Preserving Digital Evidence
After a truck accident, a trucking company may work to get rid of evidence. Your attorney can preserve evidence by sending a spoliation letter to the company to preserve evidence that could be critical to your case, such as:
- The truck’s electronic control module (ECM) contains information that may be valuable to your investigation, such as the truck’s speed and whether brakes were applied suddenly.
- GPS systems keep a record of the truck’s movements. They verify the accuracy of the information the driver kept in written logs.
- Qualcomm in-cab messaging systems are used by many truck companies. These save data regarding the truck’s location.
Starting Early is Crucial
It is important that your truck accident investigation be started as soon as possible to preserve evidence. Over time, evidence can be lost from the accident scene. Witnesses’ memories regarding the incident can fade, making their testimony less reliable and creating difficulties in accident reconstruction.
Truck companies send their attorneys to the accident scene as soon as possible, where they begin to gather evidence and talk to witnesses. They also help the truck driver nail down his or her version of events.
This is why it is in your best interest to hire a truck accident attorney right away to protect your rights and begin the investigation. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner he or she can get to work fighting for your best interests.
We are Prepared to Pursue Fair Compensation
If you were injured in a truck accident, our New Jersey truck accident attorneys can help you protect your rights. We can review your case and work to secure maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Request a free, no obligation consultation today and learn what legal options are available in your situation. There are no upfront fees, and you only pay us if we recover compensation in your case.
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