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Logging Truck Overturned in Accident on Highway

Gathering and Protecting Evidence After a Truck Accident

Law Offices of McCullough & Leboff, P.A. Jan. 30, 2024

Establishing negligence is one of the most crucial steps when pursuing financial compensation for a truck accident or any personal injury case. The process of gathering and indexing evidence for a truck wreck can be significantly more complex than with any other type of motor vehicle accident. 

Truck accidents are not an uncommon occurrence in Florida. As attorneys, we've seen how the immense weight and size of a truck often result in serious injuries and, in more tragic cases, deaths.  

It's also worth noting that trucking accidents often involve different liable parties: the truck operator, the freight company, the vehicle manufacturer, and other drivers. Each party may have varying degrees of liability for the crash, which is determined by studying the evidence.  

For instance, did the truck’s brakes malfunction, implicating the manufacturer? Or was the driver fatigued from being on the road too long, implicating the freight company for not enforcing the Hours of Service rule? Clear and properly-preserved evidence can provide definitive answers to these questions. 

Causes of Truck Accidents and Evidence to Collect

Truck accidents can result from a variety of causes, each presenting its unique set of challenges when it comes to gathering and preserving evidence. Some of the common causes we've encountered include:  

  • driver fatigue due to exceeding hours of service regulations,  

  • inadequate training or experience of the truck driver,  

  • distracted driving,  

  • driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,  

  • speeding or reckless driving,  

  • poor vehicle maintenance or mechanical failures,  

  • improper loading, and  

  • adverse weather or road conditions. 

When it comes to proving these causes in a court of law, certain types of evidence carry more weight than others. By understanding what kind of evidence is most relevant to each cause, we can strategically build a case that stands up under scrutiny. 

Driver logs and black box data are critical pieces of evidence when it comes to proving driver fatigue or excessive hours of service. These records provide an accurate account of the driver's activities and can reveal if they were on the road longer than legally permitted. Similarly, the driver's employment records can shed light on their level of training and experience, which can be pivotal in cases where inadequate training is suspected. 

Distracted driving or driving under the influence can often be demonstrated through witness statements, photos, or videos of the accident scene, and law enforcement reports. If the driver was found to be texting while driving, for instance, phone records could be subpoenaed to provide concrete evidence of this behavior. 

When it comes to mechanical failures or poor vehicle maintenance, the truck's maintenance and inspection records are invaluable. They can reveal if the vehicle was not properly maintained or if any issues were ignored or improperly addressed by the responsible parties. 

In cases where improper loading or adverse weather conditions are suspected causes, photos, or videos of the accident scene, witness statements, and expert testimony can be instrumental. Skid marks, damage to vehicles, road conditions—all these can paint a picture of what transpired, especially when analyzed by an accident reconstruction expert. 

The Importance of Black Box Data 

Another vital aspect that we pay attention to in truck accident cases is the black box data. Almost all modern commercial trucks come equipped with a black box, which records all operational data and provides valuable information about the crash and the truck itself. This information includes:  

  • whether the truck’s brakes were applied,  

  • the truck’s speed and direction at the time of the accident,  

  • how long the truck driver has been behind the wheel,  

  • all steering wheel movements and gear changes,  

  • and more. 

Black box data should also include the vehicle’s daily inspection reports along with any reports filed by the driver to the freight company. Since black box data is so valuable in a trucking accident case, we recommend working with an experienced truck accident attorney to download and preserve black box data before the truck driver or their employer tampers with or destroys the box. 

Other Evidence to Collect 

Along with securing black box data, there are other electronic and physical records that freight companies are required to keep on file for a specified length of time. For instance, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration requires all freight companies to maintain their drivers’ records of duty status along with any supporting documentation for at least six months.  

The following is important information for your attorney to collect when establishing liability for your truck accident:  

  • truck driver’s hiring and commercial training 

  • truck driver’s daily logs 

  • truck’s daily inspections 

  • truck’s inspection and maintenance records 

  • any tests and repairs performed on the truck 

  • any other accidents the driver has been involved in 

We've also seen cases where freight companies have gone to great lengths in an attempt to circumnavigate liability for an accident involving their drivers and their fleet. A freight company might try to erase specific data from the black box, reset the device, fabricate records, or essentially destroy evidence. So it's crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can not only interpret their findings but also persuade the freight company into providing accurate records.  

Preserving Truck Accident Evidence 

Preserving evidence after a truck accident can seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you are trying to concentrate on your physical recovery. As daunting as it may seem, failing to prevent the destruction of vital evidence is an expensive mistake. Hiring a skilled attorney to help with accessing and saving necessary reports, records, and documents in a timely fashion will give you an advantage over the driver and their employer. 

In our experience, preserving truck accident evidence is usually a process involving several critical steps. Remember that each case is unique, and the specific steps needed can vary depending on the circumstances of the accident. If you've been involved in a truck accident, reach out to us at the Law Offices of McCullough & Leboff, P.A. We'll guide you through this challenging process and work tirelessly to help you secure the compensation you deserve. 

The Power of Evidence in Truck Accident Cases 

In our experience at the Law Offices of McCullough & Leboff, P.A., the difference between a successful claim and a failed one often lies in the quality of the evidence presented. By understanding the common causes of truck accidents and knowing what evidence can best prove these causes, we're able to help our clients navigate the complex legal process and work toward the compensation they deserve. 

If you've been involved in a truck accident, don't hesitate to reach out to us. As attorneys serving Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the surrounding areas of Davie, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Weston, Sunrise, and Plantation, we're here to guide you through the evidence-gathering process and advocate for your rights.