Trucking accidents can be the most deadly. It is obvious and goes without saying that the sheer weight and force behind such a 5-ton+ behemoth can result in serious injuries by even the slightest bump much less at “normal”, or worse, high speeds.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation found here, thousands were killed and injured in 2012 (most recent data). In fact, the Department of Transportation noted:
In 2012, there were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) . . . In the United States, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes during 2012.
Federal and State law / regulations differ on what truck drivers can or cannot do – that is, for example, whether the truck driver must maintain certain records and the extent of record keeping. After a crash, it is critical to immediately attempt to preserve evidence of such through what is called a “spoliation of evidence letter” by an attorney (fancy legal language for “you must preserve evidence” and “don’t throw evidence / records in the garbage or delete it”).
In fact, I often send an immediate, detailed letter with “instructions” to a potential defendant truck driver insurance company demanding that the following (perhaps not exclusive list) be preserved and not destroyed:
o The tractor and trailer involved in the accident at issue;
o Permits and licenses covering the vehicle involved in the accident at issue;
o Any and all permits and/or licenses held by Mr. ____________________;
o Bills of lading and any other documents in relation to the freight on board on the vehicle involved in the accident at issue on the day of the accident;
o Mr. ____________________’s daily logs or “diary” of each hour spent on the road and any “resting” for the two (2) years prior to the date of the accident referenced above and in accordance with 49 C.F.R. 395.8 and/or 395.15 and any devices/books used to so record same shall also be preserved, not destroyed, concealed, modified, changed or altered in any way, shape or form;
o Inspection reports for the tractor (semi cab) and trailer involved in the collision at issue;
o Any and all maintenance and repair records for the tractor and trailer;
o Mr. ____________________’s qualification file;
o Any and all photographs, video, and records of all of the vehicles (not just the tractor-trailer) involved in the accident at issue and of the scene of the accident;
o Mr. ____________________’s alcohol and/or drug testing results in relation to this incident;
o Any and all contracts involving the tractor-trailer at issue (e.g., including, but not limited to, any independent use, subcontracted use or other use);
o Any and all contracts involving the tractor-trailer at issue and its freight;
o Any and all data from any and all on-board recording devices such as, but not limited to, black boxes;
o Mr. ____________________’s personnel file and driving history;
o Any and all GPS tracking data and the devices/software used to so track;
o Any and all statements obtained from any witness or person in relation to the accident at issue;
o Any and all dispatch records in relation to Mr. ____________________ and/or his tractor and/or trailer for the two months prior to this incident at issue;
o Any and all hiring and employment records of Mr. ____________________;
o Any and all electronic data on any ECM, PCM or other device—whether internally or externally mounted (on the engine or inside any electronic modules internally);
o Any and all audio and video recordings in relation to the tractor-trailer from any time and from this incident or any investigation in relation thereto; and
o Any and all data relating to the use of any cell phones or other communication devices of Mr. ____________________ or others in the vehicle at the time of the incident at issue.
Thereafter, I even work with the truck driver / trucking company to arrange to have the truck inspected as soon as reasonably possible. I essentially “wrap up” with a note warning the truck driver / trucking company about the law: “As you may know, Defendants’ failure to comply with this notice can result in severe sanctions being imposed by Court and possible liability in tort for spoliation of evidence or potential evidence.”
It is critical to preserve such evidence. Make sure to speak with a lawyer immediately following a trucking accident.
You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who has been a victim of a trucking crash or negligence – in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages–BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters – large or small.