The moments following a large truck crash are confusing and chaotic.
It’s completely natural to be frightened, overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do next. As experienced Albuquerque truck accident attorneys, we have helped countless clients navigate the terrifying aftermath of a commercial truck accident. We understand what you’re going through.
The minutes and hours immediately following an 18-wheeler wreck are critical. This is the time to gather some of the strongest evidence that won’t be available later. While we know that injuries and other circumstances may prevent you from being able to obtain some information, we always advise our clients to get as much as they can.
Do you know what information to collect in a truck accident—information that can protect your rights and build a strong claim? Keep reading to learn more.
- Evidence is a central part of any truck accident case.
- There is important evidence available at the accident scene that will soon be lost or destroyed. If you can, it’s best to gather this information right away.
- After you’ve left the crash site, your lawyer can help you take action to obtain other key evidence—like driver logs, black box data, and drug and alcohol test results.
What Information Do I Need To Get at the Scene of a Semi Truck Crash?
Let’s start with the information to collect immediately at the scene of the crash. In the aftermath of a truck accident, you can gather:
Photographs and Video
If your condition allows, get out your phone or camera and take pictures and/or videos of the accident scene. Try to show property damage, physical injuries, debris on the road, and the position of vehicles.
Videos can also help set the scene by showing traffic, lighting, and weather conditions, as well as any suspicious behaviors exhibited by the truck driver.
There is no such thing as too many pictures. Your lawyer and their team of accident reconstruction experts will help you sift through the photos. We’ll help identify the ones that best demonstrate the negligence that caused your accident and injuries.
In a commercial vehicle crash, a law enforcement officer will respond to the accident. After assessing the situation, the police officer will create an accident report.
The accident report is a key piece of evidence in a truck accident case. Insurance companies rely heavily on this document when making liability determinations.
At the scene, help the officer fill out the report. Then ask for a copy or how to obtain a copy of the report at a later date. Go over the police report with your lawyer to make sure all factual information is accurate.
If there were any eyewitnesses of the collision, make sure you speak with them at the scene. Ask if they would be willing to give a statement. Take down their name and contact information. It’s important to get the information correct because you may not be able to reach them later if you don’t have the right phone number or address.
You can ask eyewitnesses at the scene to make a statement about what they saw. Your lawyer can also reach out later to interview them about the details.
Driver and Trucking Company Information
Speak with the trucker involved in the collision and ask for their:
- Name, address, and phone number
- Company of employment and address
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL) information
- DOT number
- Truck license plate and identification number
- Insurance company and policy number
Evidence To Help Prove Truck Driver or Trucking Company Negligence
There is more information that you can gather after the crash to help build your claim. Your truck accident injury claim will depend on strong evidence needed to support your case. This may come in the form of:
Driver logs, like the records kept through electronic logging devices (ELDs), tell how many hours the driver worked before the crash.
Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents. Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators are allowed to spend as long as 11 hours behind the wheel. But many trucking company employees are encouraged (or even forced) to stay on the road longer.
If a driver caused a crash because they violated federal hours of service regulations, driving logs can provide proof.
Black Box Information
A truck’s event data recorder (EDR), better known as its “black box,” gives information that can’t be found elsewhere. A black box can show things like how fast the truck was traveling at the time of impact, when the driver braked, and more.
However, because the black box belongs to the trucking company, it’s not easy to just ask for this computerized data. Your lawyer can help step in and get this critical information before the company deletes it.
Truck Maintenance and Inspection Reports
There are federal laws about how, how often, and when a truck must be inspected and maintained. Further regulations govern the records that companies must keep about these inspections.
Mechanical failures are common contributing factors in semi crashes. But many of these issues can be prevented with proper maintenance. For example, a tire blowout is inevitable when the tires aren’t changed or rotated as often as they should be.
These reports can show us if a trucking company’s negligent vehicle maintenance was a factor in your crash.
Driving a 40-ton truck is a lot of work. Long hours of intense visual concentration, focus, and isolation take a toll on the body. That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that CMV operators undergo annual physicals to ensure fitness for the job.
If a driver failed a physical exam but was allowed to remain behind the wheel, their medical report may serve as important evidence in your case.
Drug and Alcohol Test Results
Just as a driver needs to be fit for the demands of the job, they must also be sober. There is no room for error when driving an enormous vehicle at speeds of 65 mph and above.
The laws against drinking or using drugs behind the wheel of a commercial truck are strict—but they’re too often violated. Due to the long hours on the road, many drivers turn to alcohol or drugs (especially stimulants like amphetamines) to cope or stay alert.
Breathalyzer or blood test results can prove a trucker’s on-the-job substance use.
Driver Cell Phone Records
Texting and driving, scrolling through social media, watching videos, or making internet searches are dangerous behaviors, no matter what kind of vehicle you’re driving. But using a cell phone while operating a tractor-trailer is extremely risky.
CMV drivers are not allowed to manually use a cell phone while driving. If their mobile device records show that they were, your case will be much stronger.
Why Evidence Is Important in a Truck Accident Case
If a truck driver or company’s negligence caused your injuries, they owe you financial compensation for your losses. Trucking companies, however, operate in the interest of making money—not paying it out to injured victims. Therefore, most companies will do whatever they can to deny or reduce your claim.
This means you need a lot of strong evidence—enough that there’s no room for the company to refute your right to full and fair compensation.
If you’re not sure what information to collect in your truck accident case, we can help.
Buckingham & Vega Law Firm has been helping semi crash victims in the Southwest for decades. We know how to build strong cases, and we know how to prove your right to compensation. We also know how to track down the hard-to-obtain pieces of evidence the trucking companies don’t want you to see.
Let us answer your questions for you during a free, no-obligation consultation at our personal injury law firm. This is a risk-free opportunity for you to ask questions, get sound legal advice, and learn about your legal rights after a trucking collision. Call today (505) 388-0066 to schedule your complimentary case consult.