Many truck accident survivors find themselves seriously injured, unable to work, and are usually worried about paying their bills. That is why an accident victim should seek compensation from the at-fault party. Seeking compensation from the faulty party can prove to be a challenging task based on the defense that is presented by the respondent. This means that you should have relevant evidence needed to win this type of case. Contact us at the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney for a detailed assessment of your truck accident and collection of relevant evidence required to win it.
Types of Evidence Needed in Your Truck Accident
You can use various evidence to prove that the accident occurred and that you incurred injuries and damages as a result. You need to gather and analyze the evidence that you get to be sure that it is enough and credible to win your case. Your attorney should help you analyze it to get the best results. Here is a detailed view of the evidence that you need in your truck accident.
Truck Inspection Report
Truckers are required to follow specific laws and regulations related to safety inspection and truck maintenance repairs. However, some trucks may not be inspected as expected. Therefore, drivers end up driving in unsafe conditions or with malfunctioning parts, which can contribute to an accident.
That's why truck drivers should maintain a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) as proof of their compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations 396.11. This report should include certain motor accessories and parts essential in the proper functioning of a truck. Some of the mandatory accessories or components that should be included in the driver's inspection report include:
Steering wheel equipment or mechanics
Tires, wheels, and rims
Light and reflectors
Tires, wheels, and rims
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also makes it mandatory that all commercial motors should not be driven unless all the items listed above are in place and ready to use. Once the driver fills the DVIR, he or she identifies that there are no safety issues such as missing accessories, defective parts, or any other factor that might hinder the truck's safe operation. Failing to do a thorough inspection of the truck can result in the driver being liable for the accident, even if it had the emergency equipment.
If the inspection was done and the defective parts were noted, but the trucking company did not do anything about it, it might increase the chances of an accident. This might also be a suitable basis for holding the trucking company responsible for the accident.
The motor carrier companies should keep the inspection on file or report three months from the date it was written. However, if there was any suspicious accessory within this period, the company should not wait until the next inspection. Failure to handle the problem on time puts them liable for the accident despite the limit of the timeline needed for the inspection.
Apart from the DVIRs, truck drivers must provide reports for equipment supplied by the intermodal equipment provider. This helps the providers be aware of any possible defects or issues related to accessories that they have provided and make necessary repairs. This is another essential report that you can use to establish which party was at-fault if the accident resulted from faulty equipment supplied by an external supplier rather than the manufacturer.
Black Box Information
A black box, which is also referred to as the Event Data Recorder (EDR) is a piece of equipment installed on trucks to record different data related to the truck's internal and external operations. These devices have been installed in trucks since the 1990s. The black box consists of sensors and other components that are integrated into the truck's engine.
The black box collects crucial information regarding the truck's trip, performance, and moments leading to a crash. Most black boxes record data for thirty days. Here are some of the ways that a black box can help in your personal injury case.
The EDR collects the average truck speed for the last thirty days and information about how fast it was traveling at specific times. This would help a claimant show how fast the truck was driving before the collision.
The black box records information related to the number of hours that a trucker has driven before taking a break. You could use this evidence to prove that the truck driver's fatigue and a violation of federal trucking hours led to the wreck.
Performance and Maintenance
You can learn a lot of information about a truck's performance and maintenance using the black box. The EDR will help you determine whether the truck was properly maintained by checking crucial elements such as brake's application, hard stop, seat belt usage, engine RPM, and other aspects that would help in your claim.
A truck's black box can record the information related to how the accident came into place. It also provides the truck's data during the crash when the trucker applied the brakes and the force of impact during the collision. In that case, it is easy for an expert witness to reconstruct the information recorded by the black box and prove the liability of the at-fault party.
Advanced black boxes can store emails between the trucker and the trucking company. This can provide information about the truck's maintenance, violation of service hours, and a trucker’s statement after the accident. You can use such information to hold the driver or trucking company liable for the accident.
The truck's black box can also help you determine the following elements that can help you in your case:
Whether the truck was using its cruise control
The frequency as to which the truck was traveling beyond the predetermined speed of 65mph
GPS location information
Number of times that the truck was involved in a crash and the time of the crash
Post-Collison Drug and Alcohol Test Results
It is illegal for commercial truckers to drive a truck with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.04% or higher in California. Therefore, if the BAC results of the trucker after the collision was beyond 0.04%, he or she will be liable for the accident. High BAC levels affect the judgment of a trucker, and one cannot make reasonable decisions when presented with an unusual situation.
You can get a copy of the BAC report from the DUI officer responsible for the BAC testing, to use it as evidence in court. Having a higher BAC than the recommended levels puts the driver liable for the accident and puts him or her at risk of facing all the penalties related to the offense.
Getting first aid and reporting an accident to the police is essential, but getting the information of any witness that can be found is equally crucial. Here are some of the value additions that witness reports would bring to your case.
Provides Neutral Parties to your Case
Witness statements work as neutral third-party evidence that can corroborate to the accounts of your accident. However, you should be careful with the people that you choose as your witnesses to avoid harming the information provided during the case. Since eyewitnesses have no alliance in the accident, they tend to confirm any story with an unbiased version.
Witnesses Help to Establish Fault
In case there is some sort of disagreement between the at-fault party (the driver) and you, witness testimony can pinpoint the accident's exact proceeding to clarify the case. They can confirm issues such as the driver's use of his or her mobile phone, taking a wrong turn, or speeding to resolve your case.
Witnesses Help Fill in information Gaps
One of the significant issues about accident claims is the memory gaps that arise in a story. Most of the victims involved in an accident are unable to recall an accident’s proceedings, which often breaks the case. Most defenses use these gaps while defending their clients and can make you lose your case unless you rely on a witness. Testimonies from witnesses, especially those that are detailed with their facts, can help you fill gaps that would have made you lose your case.
Admission of Fault
Since witnesses are the first people you probably contacted when you were involved in a truck accident, they can help establish that the driver admitted fault through his or her statement. A simple statement from the driver such as "sorry I didn't mean to hit you" puts him or her liable for the accident. You cannot prove such a statement unless you depend on the information provided by witnesses.
Aides in Quick Settlement
Since a witness works as a third party, who can offer insight into the entire accident, a detailed written statement from him or her forms a significant piece that can add to a new level of credibility to the case. This will help in a speedy settlement, which cuts down your legal expenses as well.
Expert Witnesses Reports
Expert witnesses are crucial in accident reconstruction. These are experts who use science to determine the circumstances of an accident retained in all scenarios. They utilize physics, engineering, and mathematics principles to analyze an accident and come up with a detailed report about it.
There are a lot of benefits to relying on these experts. First, they can measure various aspects of an accident and give far more precise estimates than a layperson. Secondly, even when an accident has a lot of eyewitnesses, they provide more unbiased information, making their information more credible in court.
A professional expert witness should focus on the three essential aspects of a case. These components include liability, causation, and damage. Let's have a closer look at how an expert witness would help in these three components.
When talking about liability, you should figure out what expert witnesses should prove to establish liability. It is challenging for a layperson to translate a fair amount of data recorded in the truck's system compared to an expert witness. This includes data recorded while braking, vectoring, acceleration, and steering. Expert witnesses will use licensed data that match the software installed in the truck to come up with a detailed assessment of the case.
Once the expert witnesses acquire this data, they combine it with facts of the case, such as police reports and witness statements, to reconstruct your accident. With all this information, they can show exactly how the accident occurred and help you use their report in court.
Establishing Facts Related to Causation
Now that you would have covered liability, your expert witness should move on to causation. Causation involves analyzing your damages to figure out their worth in terms of economic and non-economic damages.
An expert witness will often use the injured person's primary care provider. This is similar to a "before and after" comparison. The comparison helps in clearly understanding the effect of the accident on the victim's mental and physical condition.
Other than the primary care provider, the expert witness will rely on medical specialists to understand the injury that you suffered after the truck accident. They usually consult specialists such as neurosurgeons, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, psychologists, and other relevant medical specialists.
Establishing Non-Economic Damages
Some types of damages are not easily determined due to their non-monetary nature. An expert witness would be a crucial part of establishing such damages once you are involved in a truck accident. For instance, an expert witness would be able to analyze your education, work, and physical condition and establish how your working ability is affected. They can also provide a reliable assessment of your financial impact if you obtained permanent injuries from the accident.
Utilizing Building Contractors
It might sound odd to have a building contractor testifying in a personal injury case, but such an expert can be a crucial witness in helping you win your case. Such experts will help the expert witness to determine the scope of work needed to be done in your building or workplace to accommodate your physical limitation gained through the injuries sustained in the truck accident. Again, this would make your damages credible enough to convince the judge to agree to your compensation claims.
Truck Driver Logbook Information
Truckers should maintain a logbook to ensure that they are compliant with the Federal hours-of-service rules. It is essential to keep this information to get enough rest between their shifts. There is a maximum number of hours that drivers are required to rest after driving for a particular time. For instance, a truck driver should rest for at least ten hours before getting back on the road. Once they are on the road, they should drive for a maximum of eleven hours before taking another rest period.
Of course, not all truck drivers would sleep for the 10-hours rest period that they should observe. Often, truckers overwork themselves and are too tired, ending up falling asleep or losing their attention, leading to a crash.
With the advancement in trucking technology, trucking companies install a device known as Electronic On-Board Recorder (EOBR) that would electronically take note of the driver's operation to avoid any manipulations. The information collected from the EOBR would help establish the accident’s cause and put the right party faulty of the accident.
Truck Driver's Qualification
Trucking companies should do a thorough background check on their drivers while hiring them and continuously monitor them after acquiring their services. However, some companies might ignore this requirement and hire drivers who do not meet the required standards. This is common with companies that intend to avoid hiring qualified drivers due to their high wage demands.
It is essential to collect information about the trucker responsible for your accident to determine whether he or she was qualified enough to be a truck driver in California. To help navigate these requirements, you should check whether the truck driver in question meets the following qualifications:
Possesses a high school diploma or GED
Have a good driving record
Is at least eighteen years old to drive within California or 21 to be an interstate driver
Possesses a proof of California residency
Has passed a 10-year background check
Pass TSA screening
Possesses a social security number
Whether he or she has gone through a regular drug test and has a certificate that proves eligibility to be a truck driver
Possesses a medical examination certificate
Has a Class D license for at least one year and has a good standing
Truck drivers are also expected to go through a test apart from the above-stated qualifications. This includes passing in both knowledge and skill tests. The knowledge test examines the driver's knowledge of road safety rules for truck driving. Once the student has gone through the knowledge test, he or she will start preparing for skill tests, which look for competency in vehicle inspection, road driving, and vehicle control.
Above all, a trucker should have at least five years of driving experience to drive from one state to another. Therefore, if the at-fault driver involved in an accident that you were a victim is not experienced enough, his or her inexperience might be the reason behind the accident. A thorough look at the cause of the accident might expose this fact, which would help you use it in court.
Truck Driver's Phone Record
Cell phone calls and text messages that are received and sent by the driver can provide a wealth of evidence to support your truck accident litigation. Recently, cell phone usage has been a significant distraction for drivers, making it a central element in many truck accidents.
Most drivers, including truckers, overestimate their ability to multitask while driving, thinking that they can manage to control a fast-moving truck while having a conversation on their phone. While there are possible ways to reduce the risk of in-cab phone conversation using a hands-free system, most drivers end up distracted while taking pictures, surfing the internet, or downloading music.
Securing messaging data and phone call records can prove to be challenging. Still, once you get a hand of such evidence, this would arguably be the most useful information needed to establish the driver's negligence.
Traffic Camera Footage
You probably have noticed the video cameras along highways, at red lights, and toll plazas. Whereas there are other reasons why traffic cameras exist, such as monitoring traffic congestion, number plate recognition, and law enforcement, they might be valuable evidence in proving liability of a particular party in a truck accident.
The first thing you would want to consider is the different potential sources of video depending on where the accident occurred. One of the simplest ways to look up the location of such cameras is through Google Street View and consider all possibilities. Some of the video sources that you might rely on include the following:
Traffic red light camera
Private business surveillance camera
Data Recorder and In-Cab Camera
Images from the in-cab camera can be suitable information needed as evidence presented during your personal injury case. The data acquired from such sources can give insight into what was happening inside the truck. For instance, when the trucker was using a cell phone, snacking, or was asleep behind the wheel. It can also give insight into outside events such as the proceedings of a rear-end collision.
Find a Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
It is crucial to understand that you are owed a duty of care by the party that is at fault for your truck accident. In that case, you should provide relevant evidence to prove that there was a breach of duty or you suffered damages due to the party's negligence. At the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, our goal is to give you outstanding results with our superior representation. If you need the best personal injury attorney in Orange County, contact our office at 714-876-1959 and let us sit down with you to discuss your case and examine your options.