When an accident occurs between a passenger vehicle and a truck, it can seem overwhelming to deal with. The injuries can be invasive because of the impact. Not to mention, now you have to go up against a trucking company to prove your side of the story.
A case with a trucking company can be intimidating. Because they are usually involved with a large business, it can be harder to win. However, with a Sacramento truck accident lawyer on your side, it can be easier to obtain the data needed.
Types of Evidence to Request
Logbooks provide detailed records of a truck driver’s hours behind the wheel, rest breaks, sleep logs, and more. Requesting these logs can reveal if a driver violated hours of service regulations or falsified their driving logs. Having certified copies of these logs from the trucking company is key evidence, so let your lawyer handle this part.
Event data recorders installed on large trucks provide objective data about what occurred leading up to a crash. This black box data includes truck speed, hard braking events, throttle position, seatbelt usage, and more. The raw data requires expert analysis to interpret but can reveal critical facts, and reconstructing the accident sequence using the truck’s black box provides reliable documentation of improper driving.
Maintenance records also contain technical information needing industry expertise to decode and understand. Poor maintenance of equipment like brake systems or steering components can cause or contribute to the severity of a crash. Matching accident details with recent repair orders may also reveal the trucking company’s failure to properly service the truck.
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Steps to Take to Obtain Evidence
Preserving skid marks, debris fields, and photo evidence is important to get quickly, if possible. Learn what protocols the officer follows to collect and record crash scene information. Providing the officer with a list of all potential evidence needed for crash reconstruction supports a detailed investigation.
Retaining a specialist in accident reconstruction is extremely useful early on. These experts know what information is most helpful to fully determine the cause. Their expertise also assists in reviewing technical evidence like the truck’s black box as the case progresses, and they also provide the supporting facts to demonstrate the true sequence of destructive events.
You and your lawyer should also quickly send a document hold letter after an accident, which is vital. This letter instructs the trucking company to secure potential evidence relating to your incident. Critical evidence preserved after getting the spoliation letter includes the truck’s black box data, driver logbooks, and personnel files.
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Potential Issues When Trying to Get the Data
A major potential roadblock is a lack of police investigation if a crash seems minor at the scene. For example, if your truck collision did not appear extremely serious initially, you probably did not request an ambulance, but later on, you realized you were suffering from significant injuries. Failure to photograph, measure skid marks, or collect key data prevents later reconstruction. Starting an in-depth investigation right away gathers the most accurate evidence.
Black box systems vary widely in format and storage capacity for trucking companies. Older models only record a few seconds of data rather than minutes before a collision, and each system requires specialized software and cables to download, providing another hurdle. Interpreting raw black box reports also means that you should find an expert witness.
Even when evidence is technically accessible, trucking companies may resist releasing records. Repeat requests, subpoenas, and even court motions become necessary to obtain rightful materials. Asserting federal privacy regulations often hinders securing driver logs, qualification files, and more despite litigation exceptions, and an uncooperative company may take advantage of delays, claiming records no longer exist.
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When the Trucking Company Tries to Refuse Handing Over the Data
Refusing to communicate is unfortunately common when trucking companies want to avoid liability in crash cases. Repeated formal record requests followed by subpoenas with specific regulatory citations are then required. You will need to work with your lawyer on this part as it is best to do this strategically.
Privacy concerns and company policies seem facially valid for withholding driving logs, inspection records, and more. However federal regulations explicitly permit releasing records for litigation purposes when appropriately requested. Demanding specificity exploits potential gray areas where companies may incorrectly claim prohibitions.
Destroyed, missing, or modified electronic records rightly raise doubts about transparency when critical crash evidence suddenly cannot be accessed. What metadata verifies data was actually overwritten, and who had custody of the vehicle and black box? Illegitimate claims demand investigation into potential tampering or conflicts of interest.
Potential Types of Compensation If You Win Your Truck Accident Case
Proving the truck driver or company’s negligence allows accident victims to potentially recover various losses resulting from the crash. Compensatory damages attempt to make the injured person whole again through financial awards covering identifiable affliction or harm. These losses are valued as economic damages like medical bills or property damage, as well as pain and emotional distress.
Courts may also impose punitive damages as a punishment for egregious, reckless behavior by a defendant. These exemplary awards penalize and deter tortious conduct above compensating actual victim losses. Winning punitive damages requires demonstrating intentional harm, extreme negligence, or shockingly bad safety practices by a trucking company.
In addition to damages, court rulings may include injunctive remedies compelling a negligent trucking outfit to correct harmful policies. For example, requiring revised maintenance procedures, more driver oversight, installation of speed limiters, or other institution-wide safety upgrades. These legally enforceable changes aim to prevent repeat or future dangerous transportation practices shown in a specific case.
Contact a Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney
When you are going up against a large trucking company to attempt compensation, it can be intimidating. You can benefit from having legal representation on your side so each step will be explained to you. Dealing with subpoenas and other discovery methods should be dealt with by someone who does this continuously to achieve the best potential results.
Working with a truck accident lawyer in Sacramento can leave you with a sense of relief. Knowing someone is in your corner and can help you navigate a complex case can make all the difference. Contact us for a free consultation to see the best next step that we can potentially move forward with together for your specific circumstances.