Crucial Evidence in Truck Accident Cases

August 21, 2022

Being involved in an accident with a semi-truck is highly unlike a usual car accident. First, semi-trucks can cause more severe property damage and bodily injury due to their size compared to other vehicles. Second, when a lawsuit arises from a semi-truck accident, a plaintiff sues a corporation, instead of an individual, and corporations are usually represented by teams of lawyers and insurance companies. 

Lastly, though, and importantly, semi-truck accident cases provide different types of evidence that may not be present in usual car accident cases. The following is a list of some different types of evidence in truck accident cases that should definitely be considered by you and your lawyer

 

Log Books

Every truck driver is required by federal law to keep and maintain a log book, which records a driver’s time, including hours spent driving and resting, in addition to information about a truck’s maintenance, such as fuel levels and service intervals. While truck drivers used to keep a manual book in their cab, most drivers now use electronic logging devices to keep track of their log book information. The information contained in these devices is usually reliable because truck drivers’ logs are subject to inspection by Department of Transportation officials during traffic stops and weigh-ins. 

In a lawsuit, a log book is useful because it provides a snapshot in time of the circumstances surrounding an accident. For example, if a truck driver falls asleep behind the wheel and causes an accident, his log book would show whether he was taking appropriate resting hours, which would in turn be helpful for proving liability.

 

Manifests

Similar to how a flight manifest functions on an airplane, a trucking manifest lists everything and everyone on the vehicle. Every piece of cargo is listed, along with its final destination, as well as any passengers that might be riding along with the truck driver. 

The document is primarily used for customs and inspection purposes, but in the event of a crash, the trucking manifest can be a valuable piece of information, as it provides insight into how the driver should have been handling his or her specific type of cargo. For example, specific types of cargo mandate that a driver stays on certain types of roads. If a driver takes shortcuts that aren’t allowed, that’s evidence of negligence, which can in turn show liability. 

 

Black Boxes

Also similar to an airplane, semi-trucks have “black boxes” which take automated recordings of a truck’s computer systems, maintenance activities, and in some cases, the driver’s activities. The electronic log book could be one component of a semi-truck’s black box system, but some trucks are equipped with “event recording” systems, which take a snapshot of the truck’s status in the moments before an “event” is detected, such as a rapid deceleration, a sharp turn, the deployment of cabin airbags, or any other indication that a crash may have occurred. 

These event recording systems are designed to provide information for investigative and legal purposes in the aftermath of an accident. In many cases, these systems are difficult to access without an attorney, as they could be a smoking gun against a truck driver’s liability for an accident. 

All in all, truck accident cases need to be handled differently than usual car accident cases, as the evidence in a trucking case is oftentimes very different, very complicated, and even hard to access. If you find yourself injured after an accident with a semi-truck, contact our office today to set up a free consultation.