Evidence After a Texas Truck Wreck Is Important
In all cases, evidence is important. However, trucking cases have a unique twist in the motor vehicle context because they are so highly monitored and regulated. These are expensive trucks driven by professionals. The owners of a truck and trailer are not going to let evidence of what happened to disappear unless you wait too long to contact them. If you do, our Midland TX truck accident attorney mentions that the evidence may be destroyed in the normal course of business.
Evidence is important in these cases because the trucking company and truck driver will always try to blame the other driver. It is up to us to find out what really happened.
Key Physical Evidence In Trucking Cases
Physical evidence is critical. When a truck wreck occurs, if there is not a lawsuit right away, physical evidence is the first thing that starts to disappear. Let's look at a few pieces of physical evidence that are time-sensitive:
- Skid marks on the ground - after a wreck, the skid marks are fresh and usually blocked off. Also, the scene is as close as possible to how it was the day of the wreck. The longer time goes on, the more wear and tear on the skid marks occurs. Now, that is not always true as there may have been gouge marks that don't go away or skids off to the side.
- Tire tread from either vehicle - when a truck has a blowout that causes a wreck, we want to see the tire tread. Is it a potential case against the tire manufacturer or is it a case against the trucking company for negligent maintenance? Did the truck driver even do a pre-trip inspection? The problem when waiting is it is hard to link up the tire tread to that specific wreck if it's in an area where there is lots of road tire tread.
- Damage to the truck or trailer - if the damage to the tractor or trailer can be repaired, it will be, as soon as possible. The truck driver wants to get back on the road, the trucking company needs the loads to make money, and the longer they wait, the more money they lose. However, this also means that we will not get to investigate the tractor or trailer in its original state at the time of the wreck. Then we will be forced to rely on the photos that the defense takes.
As you can see, the physical evidence above is simple but critical if we can get to it first. The moment evidence begins to have wear and tear or goes missing, it just makes the case a bit harder. Now, this is not to say that you have to have a lawyer, but finding all of the above in a trucking case is near impossible without an experienced trial lawyer that is ready to file suit right away.
Key Evidence Internally At The Trucking Company
When we are able to get access to the trucking company's internal documents early in a trucking case, we are able to find the lies before they try to cover them up. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require trucking companies to maintain their driver's personnel file while employed. If the trucking company fires the driver after the wreck and the file is not preserved, then it makes it a bit more difficult.
- Driver's logs - after a wreck, the starting point we always want to go after is the driver's logs. Every driver is required to maintain a log book. This log book must document the driver's stops and locations throughout his/her trip. Where we find errors and lies is in the distance traveled and locations that do not match the route. On paper, it may seem fine, but when we get to investigate, it is not.
- Driver qualification file - the driver qualification file is very important. It will tell us what the trucking company knew before hiring the driver. It will tell us what the truck driver disclosed to the trucking company on his application. It will tell us what training and supervision notes the company has on the driver throughout employment. This file is required to be maintained during employment and for a certain period after employment.
- Cell phone data - depending on if the cell phone is a personal phone or a company phone, we may be able to track this information later. However, as with all cell phone records, they are typically only preserved for a short period of time by the companies themselves. Trucking companies rarely ever ask the drivers for their cell phone data. In the end, we want the cell phone preserved along with the phone records.
Every time we have been able to seize this information early in a trucking case, it has worked for us to fully investigate the wreck and its root cause. Cell phone data tells a great story every time it is pulled and found in these cases. For example, we were handling a commercial case recently and a driver told us they have a zero tolerance policy for phone use while driving. He was NOT on the phone. Then, we ordered his phone records. We got lucky and the phone company still had the calls made or received. We saw that the driver was not just on the phone once, but 8 times in a span of 15 minutes. He never got off the phone, including 2 calls at the same time (call waiting or a conference call). We didn't stop there. We continued to investigate and discovered that the calls were all from employees at the trucking company, including his supervisors and their safety department. Needless to say, the case settled shortly after this.
How Can We Help?
Trucking cases can be made into simple cases with a root cause. However, they take work, thorough investigation, and knowledge of the trucking industry. Trucking cases are a focal point of our law firm. We study the FMCSRs (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations), we study CDL videos, and we take pride in uncovering every piece of evidence that we can find on these cases.
You can see above with only a few examples all the powerful evidence that we can work to uncover in a trucking case. There is much more as well. However, the later we get brought onto a case, the more difficult it makes settling that case. All our referral lawyers know to bring us in early on a trucking case so we can work them up.
When we get a call from our clients on a potential trucking case, we jump on it right away. We will gather all the information we can, send the appropriate letters to preserve evidence, and gather documents that are public records. Then, we develop a plan of action and start attacking them for our clients and their families. We do this because they need closure and they want accountability.