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Evidence in Truck Accident Cases

When a passenger car collides with a commercial truck, the outcome is never good. Unlike passenger vehicles, a fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. A vehicle of this size and weight can cause serious and catastrophic injuries and deaths, even at low rates of speed.

After a truck accident, it is important to collect as much evidence as possible to support a personal injury case. Large commercial trucks are complicated machines, and there are myriad reasons why a truck may cause an accident. By compiling and saving evidence quickly, injured people have the best chance at recovering compensation after a truck accident caused by negligence.

Truck Accident Attorney Investigations Help Preserve Evidence

An experienced Miami truck accident attorney is invaluable when it comes to investigating a truck accident. Without the help of an attorney, much of the necessary evidence needed to prove a case in court would be nearly impossible for the average layperson to obtain.

One of the most important pieces of evidence that an attorney will request after a truck accident is the trucker’s Driver Qualification File (DQF). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that trucking companies to keep a comprehensive record of information on their drivers that can provide key evidence of fault.

Some of the information contained in a DQF includes:

  • Employment applications and employment history
  • Driving records and road test results
  • Records of any and all accidents that involved the driver
  • Copies of licenses, training certificates, and other qualifications
  • Annual review records
  • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Hours of service information
  • Drug and alcohol test results
  • Other personnel records

In addition to this information, a driver’s DQF will show whether or not that driver meets all legal requirements to be on the road. These requirements include being at least 21 years old, being in good health, being able to read and speak English, having a valid commercial driver’s license and medical certificate, and being able to load and secure cargo properly.

If a driver does not meet these qualifications, or if the DQF shows that a drive failed to follow all of the state and federal rules regulating the trucking industry, then the driver (and possibly the trucking company) may be liable for paying damages in case of an accident.

Just because the trucking company is required to keep this information, however, does not mean that it will be freely given to accident victims. Trucking companies are notorious for refusing to turn over damaging information, and for altering records after an accident occurs. An attorney can subpoena these records, which will force the trucking companies to turn them over without altering or deleting any of the substance of the DQF.

Additional Sources of Evidence

In addition to the DQF, an attorney can request evidence stored within the commercial truck itself. Most commercial trucks have a “black box” data recorder in their engine. These devices record information like sudden changes velocity, incidences of sudden or violent braking, the truck’s speed when the brakes were applied, and records of gear shifts or changes. This information can be invaluable when it comes to deciphering what happened and how the truck was behaving shortly before the accident.

Newer trucks often use on-board GPS systems that help trucking companies manage their fleets. This information is also incredibly important, and can tell the investigating attorney how far the driver was traveling and whether hours-of-service rules were followed. If a driver was fatigued, speeding, violating the hours-of-service rules, or committing any number of infractions, the evidence from the black box and GPS systems can prove a violation that may win a personal injury case.

Preserve Evidence and Make Your Case With a Miami Truck Accident Attorney

Truck accident cases are complex and require a thorough investigation into every possible cause. The amount of investigation and paperwork needed make it unwise for an individual accident victim to settle a truck accident claim on their own without an attorney.

At Gerson & Schwartz, our Miami personal injury lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience investigating truck accident cases and can help you make the strongest case possible. We understand how to get the type of evidence your case needs, and will work quickly to preserve whatever we can from your collision.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact our office today and schedule your free consultation by calling (877) 475-2905.

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