Building a personal injury claim after a commercial truck accident is no simple task, even if the fault in the accident is clear. Unlike most accidents between consumer drivers, commercial truck accidents typically involve one or more large companies, each highly motivated to avoid losing thousands of dollars to a settlement.
For this reason and several others, it is crucial for victims of commercial truck accidents to build strong claims with as much supporting evidence as they can find. The legal teams employed by large companies and their insurers are very good at finding justifications for denying settlements or minimizing them to save their bottom line. This often leaves victims with mountains of debt and lasting disabilities.
If you recently survived a truck accident, do not waste any time before you begin building your claim. The evidence you may need to win fair compensation for your losses gets much harder to gather with each passing day.
Evidence at the scene of the accident
If possible, it is wise to get as much picture and video documentation of the scene of the accident when it happens or soon after. Even waiting for a few hours means that cleanup crews have time to clear away the wreckage, and possibly weaken your case. The good news here is that most people now have excellent cameras with them at all times on their smartphones. It is much easier than it used to be to document the scene of the collision while it is still fresh.
It is also important to look for any security footage from nearby businesses, traffic lights or even other bystanders, but this, too, may disappear quickly. Security footage gets deleted, witnesses are difficult to locate, and other conflicts may keep you from obtaining helpful footage if you don't seek it out within a few days.
Don't wait to begin gathering this evidence immediately after your accident. At least, line up someone to gather evidence on your behalf if you cannot do it yourself.
Truckers' logs and electronic control modules
Commercial trucks and drivers also record several other kinds of data that is useful to gather when building a claim. You must act quickly before these pieces of evidence disappear.
Drivers of commercial vehicles must maintain detailed logs of their driving and resting time to help ensure that they get proper amounts of rest on long hauls. As soon as a commercial truck accident occurs, it is wise to request the driver's logs, to determine if the accident occurred because the driver was sleep deprived or driving longer than regulations allow.
Similarly, you should request that the owner of the truck (not necessarily the driver) give you the data from the truck's electronic control module immediately after the accident. Much like "black box" flight data recorders in aircraft, electronic control modules record internal data about the driver's habits behind the wheel and the performance of the vehicle.
It is important to understand that the owner of the truck owns the data within the device and may legally delete it until they receive your formal request. If you wait even a few days to make the request, this evidence may be permanently gone.
Your claim is essential to your recovery. Do not hesitate to use all the legal resources and guidance you need to build a strong claim that seeks full compensation for your losses and keeps your rights secure while you recover.