When 18-wheelers collide with smaller motor vehicles, the result is often serious injury or even death due to the immense size disparity. Lawsuits stemming from truck accidents require skilled assistance and thorough investigation. The victims of truck accidents will often be faced with considerable medical expenses, forced time off work, long term injuries or disability, pain and suffering and more.
Truck accident investigations are unique from car accident investigations and will require obtaining evidence that many people do not even know exists. Some critical aspects of a truck accident investigation include:
The Black Box
Almost all commercial trucks come equipped with a black box. The black box was originally developed for use on aircrafts but were later adapted to trucks. Now, they are even found on some motor vehicles. The black box holds important data concerning a truck that allows investigations to uncover what happened in the moments before the crash.
Black box data may include, among other things:
- Changes in speed
- Speed at the time of the accident
- Changes in the engine’s RPMs
- Gear shifts
If the truck comes equipped with a GPS tracking device, which many do, you can also determine the vehicle’s exact location prior to the accident. This could prove vital in uncovering whether the driver’s actions contributed to the crash.
The Driver Qualification File
Most truck accident cases will involve the truck driver and the trucking company as defendants. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that all trucking companies maintain a Driver Qualification File for each company driver. Information within this file can prove important to your case. Information will generally include:
- Employment applications
- Driving records, including a log of all accidents in which the driver has been involved
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Vehicle accident records
- The driver’s employment history
- Valid licenses
- Alcohol and blood test results
- Road test results
- Training records
Your attorney can subpoena a copy of the Driver’s Qualification File and examine the information within it to strengthen your truck accident case or potentially uncover evidence of negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company.
Hours of Service Logs
Federal regulations require that truck drivers not exceed a certain number of hours on the road before stopping and resting. The hours of service log details the driver’s hours spent on the road, rest stops, sleep time and more. It can establish whether a driver failed to comply with federal hours of service regulations. By looking at gas receipts, lading slips, and more, your attorney can further verify the accuracy of the hours of service log.