Important Evidence in Truck Collisions
To recover fair compensation after a truck accident requires evidence of fault. The following types of evidence are the most important to obtain after a truck accident to prove another party is liable.
Photo and Video Evidence
If you are not taken to the hospital immediately by emergency responders, stay at the truck accident scene and capture the following by taking photos or videos:
- The damage to all vehicles involved
- Final resting positions of all vehicles after the collision
- Any property damage to the surrounding area
- Road conditions
- Weather conditions
- Skid marks and/or any debris
- Road signs and/or traffic lights
- Your injuries
Take photos or videos from multiple angles and at varying distances. This type of documentation can corroborate your version of how the accident occurred and who was at fault. For example, the location of the damage on the truck and your vehicle, as well as their final positions, can show the direction each vehicle was traveling when struck, approximate speed, the distance to a traffic sign or signal, and other clues regarding fault. If you are taken to a hospital, ask a friend, family member, or hire a truck accident lawyer to collect this evidence for you.
If anyone witnessed the crash, their statement can be critical to proving fault. They can offer impartial evidence of how the accident occurred. These statements weigh heavily in an insurer’s decision since they are objective third parties with no financial stake in your claim.
The Police Report
Insurance companies typically consider a police report to be a more reliable account of how the accident occurred and who was at fault rather than the statements of the people involved. A police report will provide an objective view of what happened and help establish which party’s story is accurate. This report can also help provide a causal link between your injuries and property damage to the accident.
Medical records also play a significant role in linking your injuries to the truck accident and substantiating their extent and severity. If you wait too long to seek treatment, the at-fault party’s insurance company can argue that your injuries were not caused by the collision or are not as severe as you stated.
Black Box Information
The truck involved in your accident may have a black box, especially if it is a commercial vehicle. This device records data on the truck’s physical condition and the driver’s actions leading up to the collision, for example:
- The truck’s speed;
- Whether there was a sudden deceleration;
- If and when the truck driver applied any brakes;
- Steering angles, throttle position, and tilt of the vehicle.
- The truck’s following distance;
- Force of impact;
- Airbag deployment times;
- If a seatbelt was engaged;
- Daily or monthly engine activity that shows if the truck driver’s hours exceeded federal regulations;
- Maintenance issues, and more.
This information, along with the rest of the data a black box may contain, can be crucial evidence of the truck driver or trucking company’s fault.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established hours of service regulations by which truck drivers are legally obligated to abide by. Many drivers exceed these limits because they are concerned about making deliveries on time. Therefore, trucking logs are an important piece of evidence that can be used to demonstrate liability, as they may reveal whether a truck driver exceeded the legal hours of service limits.
Truck Maintenance Logs
Truck drivers and companies are required to perform daily inspections of their vehicles and log them, along with any malfunctions or repairs needed. Information from maintenance logs may prove that a truck was driven when it was not safe to do so, contributing to the collision.