Preserving Evidence After a Truck Accident
While the increasing number of semi-trucks on the road may be necessary to ensure that consumer goods are transported across the country as quickly as possible, it also means that drivers of passenger sized vehicles are more at risk of being injured in a collision. Unfortunately, collisions between standard passenger vehicles and commercial trucks tend to have particularly devastating consequences for the occupants of the smaller vehicle who may suffer from permanently disabling injuries. While it is possible for injured parties to recover compensation for their accident-related losses, doing so requires a strong case, which in turn necessitates the presentation of convincing evidence.
Collecting and understanding this evidence can be a complicated endeavor, especially for those without legal representation, so if you or a loved one were recently injured in a collision with a semi-truck, it is important to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who can help you preserve important evidence from your collision.
The Scene of the Accident
Once the safety of the parties involved has been assured, car accident victims should begin the process of collecting evidence from the scene of the accident that can help support their claim of negligence. This includes:
- Taking photos of the accident, including damage to the vehicles;
- Interviewing witnesses who saw the accident occur and obtaining their contact information; and
- Exchanging contact and insurance information with the other driver.
Much of this information will be included in the police report created by the officers who responded to the accident, so it is important for injured parties to request a copy of that report when possible. Later, injured parties may also be able to obtain copies of recordings from nearby traffic cameras, which can play a critical role in proving fault.
Records of Truck Accident Damages
Keeping detailed documentation of the costs incurred in diagnosing and treating accident-related injuries is also extremely important when attempting to establish a plaintiff’s damages, as it will be necessary to prove that the losses were actually incurred. Important records that injured parties should be careful to retain include:
- Copies of receipts for initial hospital stays, ambulance services, diagnostic testing, x-rays, doctor’s fees, and medical equipment;
- Evidence of lost wages, including lost tips, commissions, and retirement contributions;
- Receipts from necessary modifications to homes or vehicles;
- Bills for ongoing medical care, including therapy and rehabilitation costs, medical equipment, and treatment; and
- Receipts from services obtained due to disability, including housekeeping costs, yard care, and household maintenance.
Injured parties should be sure to keep all of this documentation in a safe and organized location. It can also help to create a spreadsheet that the parties can use to track expenses.
Sending Spoilation Letters
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires trucking companies to keep their drivers’ duty records for six months following an accident. For this reason, those who are injured in collisions with semi-trucks are encouraged to send a spoliation letter, which formally notifies defendants that they are prohibited from destroying items that could be used as evidence in a legal claim, including GPS data, maintenance and repair records, electronic on-board recorders, driver logs, drug test results, and company service orders.