March 15th, 2019
Trucking Accidents: Important Pieces of Evidence
You have been involved in a motor vehicle crash involving a commercial motor vehicle!!! It was not your fault!!! The following are three of the most important records you can obtain after a truck wreck.
First, request a copy of the police report. When a police officer arrives at the collision scene, they open an official police report and begin documenting the investigation. Often, their initial work at the scene involves gathering basic facts like the drivers’ identities, the vehicles involved, and insurance information. The police report should also list witnesses, record whether anyone required emergency medical attention, and document where they went for treatment. The officer may also come to an initial conclusion about why the crash happened and take down any statements given by witnesses.
Second, To supplement the police report, you should also obtain the police department’s open records regarding the crash. This can provide additional information, including when officers first received word of the crash, the names of any officers who responded, and a record of the radio dispatches that occurred while the police department identified the vehicles and mobilized a response. This information will prove especially helpful if the police report contains inaccuracies or errors. You should also contact the emergency department that received the initial 911 call and request their transcripts. These records can help identify potential witnesses who may have left the scene before police arrived, among other useful information.
Finally, get a copy of any reconstruction report. Although police officers have some training that can help them determine the causes of a crash, they aren’t experts, and their opinion is far from the final word in a truck crash case. Sometimes police may bring what is known as a reconstructionist to the scene. This is especially likely when the wreck involves multiple vehicles or other complexities. Since these investigators specialize in determining the causes of truck and bus collisions, they can conduct a more thorough inspection based on their extensive knowledge of collision dynamics and of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. If one of these investigators visited the scene of the crash in your case, their report will be extremely important for your claim.
Data from the truck itself can play a critical role in supporting your claim. Physical and electronic data from the truck can help build a fact-based account of the crash and cut through conflicting witness statements or dishonest defenses from the truck driver, their employer, and the insurance company. To make sure this data is available, it’s important to preserve the truck’s event data recorder (EDR), also known as a “black box.” A truck’s black box can give you in-depth information about what the truck was doing just before the wreck occurred, including:
- How fast the trucker was going and variations in speed
- The truck’s gear shifts
- When the trucker braked
- How long the trucker had been driving
- The truck’s GPS location
- Communications between the trucker and trucking company
- Reports filed by the trucker, including daily inspection reports
Besides the black box, most commercial trucks contain electronic logging devices (ELDs) and other computer systems that can yield further important information to support a truck wreck claim. However, you can’t rely on the trucking company to preserve this critical evidence, which is why you should always contact an experienced truck accident attorney after a collision involving a large truck or bus.