Evidence in Truck Accident Cases
Truck accidents can have devastating consequences due to the weight and size of trucks. If a collision of this nature injured you or killed a loved one, you should speak to an attorney right away to preserve important evidence in your truck accident case that may be at risk of disappearing or being damaged soon after the crash. Legal counsel can immediately investigate all contributing causes of the truck accident and bring the appropriate parties into a lawsuit. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our experienced Syracuse truck accident attorneys may be able to help you.Investigation After a Truck Accident
The success of your truck accident lawsuit may depend on the depth of the investigation immediately after the crash and the evidence gathered during the investigation. Often, while you are injured, the trucking company’s insurance adjustors will start their investigation and begin collecting evidence to show that someone other than the truck driver or trucking company was to blame for the accident. For example, they may allege that you contributed to the accident. It’s important not to give the trucking company too large of a head start, as evidence may disappear with the passage of time or simply not be recorded because it is damaging to the trucking company.
Often, trucking companies do not have to retain documents on file for very long, even when there’s been a truck accident. For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) only requires trucking companies to keep a record of their truck driver’s duty status for six months, and their annual inspection records for 14 months from the report date.
In the course of investigating a truck accident, your attorney should review records to determine whether the truck driver was properly trained and licensed, and whether he had violated FMCSA regulations or traffic laws in the past that should have raised a red flag for his employer during hiring or supervision. A truck driver’s medical records may also reveal medical conditions or medications that may have had an impairing effect on his driving. Additionally, some trucking companies have a history of being negligent and noncompliant with federal or state truck regulations. In some cases, they use evasive tactics in connection with their prior history of accidents or record of hiring unfit drivers.
Parties that may bear responsibility for a truck accident can include a truck driver, a trucking company, a third-party loader, a mechanic, or other drivers. A thorough investigation can help pinpoint who should be held accountable and brought into the suit.Evidence in Truck Accident Cases
What must be proven in a Syracuse truck accident lawsuit depends on the theory under which damages are sought. Often, truck accident lawsuits are brought against a truck driver who was negligent. To establish negligence, your lawyer needs to prove that it is more likely than not: (1) the truck driver owed you a duty of care, (2) the driver breached that duty of care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. A case may be brought against the trucking company under a theory of indirect liability such as vicarious liability or a theory of direct liability such as negligent hiring, training, or supervision.
Evidence to establish elements in a truck accident case can include witness reports, accident reports, truck driver reports, truck driver logbooks, accident scene photos, the truck driver’s employment history, the truck driver’s medical history, the truck driver’s driving record, data from an electric onboard recording device, truck inspection reports, cell phone records, the trucking company’s compliance history, damage to the truck itself, damage to any smaller vehicles, and debris at the scene. In some cases, a truck driver’s account of what happened is suspicious or self-serving, but the logbook and the data from the electronic onboard device can be used to establish that his version of events is false or not credible. Truck inspection reports and a trucking company’s compliance history may be useful in establishing a trucking company’s liability; inspection reports may also reveal a mechanic’s liability.Spoliation Letter
After a trucking accident, your attorney should send a spoliation letter to the trucking company and its insurer. This is a formal demand that they preserve any relevant evidence for the lawsuit. The letter may specifically ask that the data from the electronic onboard recording device, driver logbook, accident photos, and more be preserved. It is important to get the truck checked as soon as possible to determine whether the truck’s maintenance failed to meet the standards of the FMCSA or other regulations.Consult a Seasoned Truck Accident Attorney
If you are concerned about evidence in a truck accident case in Syracuse, you should immediately consult a skilled truck accident attorney. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents truck accident victims in Rochester, Syracuse and everywhere in Upstate New York, including in Lyons, Canandaigua, Auburn, Oswego, Watertown, Lowville, Binghamton, Cooperstown, Herkimer, Oneida, Utica, Ithaca, Wampsville, and Elmira. Contact us at 315-479-9000 or via our online form.