Building a strong personal injury claim after a traffic accident begins with gathering evidence from the scene. This applies to all accidents, no matter what kind of vehicles are involved or the damage the accident causes. If you experience a traffic accident of any kind, it is best to document the scene with pictures and video before emergency response teams arrive to clear away the wreck. Also, collect statements about the accident from any witnesses.
When an accident involves a large commercial truck, however, there are two additional types of evidence you should collect. The longer you wait, the more difficult they can be to obtain, and they may be very important in building a strong claim that fully compensates you for your losses.
The truck drivers’ logs and the vehicle’s electronic control module data are both unique types of evidence that can clarify the role of the truck driver or the truck itself in the accident, which is not always easy to determine. If you hope to build a strong claim and keep your rights protected, it is important to gather these pieces of evidence as soon as you can.
Truck drivers’ logs
One of the most common difficulties that truck drivers face on the job is staying on schedule when making a long haul. Often, they are on a tight deadline and may have to travel hundreds of miles in a single day, which can easily lead to sleep deprivation. To combat this, the law requires them to rest at regular intervals between long stretches behind the wheel. They must document in the drivers’ logs when they stop to rest and for how long.
If a driver is not well-rested, this may play a role in causing a traffic accident. Be sure to request these logs as soon as you can, even at the scene of the accident itself. If you wait too long, you may not have time to obtain them for building your claim, and may lose a valuable piece of evidence.
Electronic control module data
Modern trucks built after the mid-1990s contain an electronic control module that monitors various functions in the truck’s operation as well the driving habits of the driver. These include average and top speed, frequency of hard braking and seatbelt usage, among other things. This data may indicate unsafe behavior on the part of the driver, or may show that the accident occurred because some component of the truck itself failed. It is very important to secure this evidence if at all possible.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. In order to obtain the data, you must formally request it from the owner of the truck, which may or may not be the driver. Furthermore, the owner of the truck owns the data as well, and has the right to delete until they receive a formal request. Often, this crucial evidence can disappear for good in a matter of days.
Building a strong claim requires strong evidence that creates a clear narrative about how the accident happened and who or what caused it. With strong legal resources and guidance, you can craft a claim that addresses your losses fairly while keeping your rights secure.