This blog post outlines general steps that a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer should take during a personal injury case involving a truck. It’s important to note that truck accidents are treated differently from other car accidents.
If you are a Philadelphia resident or have been injured in a truck accident in the Philadelphia area, we encourage you to first and foremost receive medical treatment if necessary. The next important step after a truck accident is to protect your rights by hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer familiar with truck cases.
Are Truck Accidents Lawsuits Different Than Car Accident Lawsuits?
Truck accident lawsuits are different than car accident lawsuits for several reasons. The trucking industry is regulated by the government in a variety of ways. For example the FMVSR, or Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations require a minimum purchase of $750,000 in liability insurance. More insurance coverage maybe be required depending on whether or not the driver is working independently or an employee of the company hauling merchandise.
The Carpey Law law firm handles trucking accident cases every day. We know the process required fo for handling these types of cases. First and foremost evidence must be preserved. To do this, a lawsuit has to be filed first. In order to make sure evidence is preserved, we utilize “preservation letters” for any potential individual who may have important case evidence. A particular federal law, 49 C.F.R. § 395.8 requires potential evidence in a case to be kept for six months—preservation letters ensure that evidence be kept until the end of the potential civil trial. Should evidence disappear, preservation letters help provide notice in the event of a spoliation claim.
We remind clients that all evidence in a potential truck accident case is extremely important for two reasons. First is it can be used to identify all potential case defendants. Second, it can be used to establish liability. In certain cases, it may be necessary to secure the truck. Because trucks can be moved, evidence can be lost. In certain cases we immediately try to find the truck and ensure no one manipulates it. Keep in mind trucking company lawyers and their insurance carriers may be doing the same. For that reason, it’s important for any personal injury lawyer involved in a trucking case investigate the vehicles and check for evidence on board that may be pertinent to your case. The truck’s “black box” may contain records of speed, the last time the breaks were applied, etc. Moving the truck may erase this evidence and replace it with new data. Even though police at the scene file an accident report, it’s still crucial to your case for an inspection to be carried out. If the trucking company uses a service such as Qualcomm, we may be able to find out where the truck has most recently been. We’re able to compare that to driver log books to check the accuracy of records, and determine if the driver has been driving too much.
We may find it necessary to hire an expert to inspect the damage to the vehicles, and check for on board evidence as well.
We’re able to delve into case specifics, check drug and alcohol use records, verify driver’s license qualifications, review insurance requirements, and rules related to schedules, inspections, fatigue, and how many hours a truck was in service. Additionally, truck inspections, repair, and maintenance requirements are also relevant, as well as whether or not hazardous materials were present. We’re able to verify weather conditions at the time of the accident, a past history of accidents occurring at the site, and other items pertinent to recreating the scene.
For a truck accident case, we’ll check:
- Telephone records
- Faxes regarding truck route
- Accident reports
- Internal accident reports (from the trucking company)
- Driver logs
- Dispatch records
- Trip summary
- Credit card receipts of the driver
- Weigh tickets
- State entry and departure records
- Drug test results
- Annual reviews
- Driver medical records
- Employment records
- Vehicle history
- Expense sheets
- Inspection records
- Maintenance records
- Trucking company policy and procedure documents
Evidence at the scene of a truck accident is often quickly removed, so it’s essential that the victim, or another individual on his or her behalf take photos of the accident scene to preserve evidence. This includes taking images of all vehicles involved in the accident, injuries, and the circumstances surrounding the accident, as well as the physical location of the occurrence.
We caution anyone involved in a trucking accident not to discuss the accident with insurance representatives, sign any documents, or provide a statement without first consulting a qualified personal injury lawyer familiar with trucking cases. The insurance company may seem sympathetic, but in reality their representatives are trying to get you to provide information that may limit your claim. By first speaking with a qualified personal injury lawyer, you can ensure you won’t harm your case.
Do not discard any evidence, clothing, cell phones, or any items remotely related to the accident as these may be valuable case evidence.
If you are involved in a truck accident case, we advise you to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer quickly in order to avoid potential downfalls. Not every personal injury lawyer understands how to use the available evidence to prove liability in a trucking accident case.
We understand how the trucking companies and their insurance companies operate. For example, on a case-by-case basis, there may be other potential liable defendants to proceed against who are not at first apparent. It is our job to obtain the best compensation possible for our clients. We’re happy to inform motorists in Pennsylvania of their rights. Should you wish to learn more about trucking accident cases in the state of Pennsylvania, contact a representative from Carpey Law.