To recover damages for your loss and injuries after a truck crash, you need to present sufficient proof that the trucking company, truck driver, or manufacturer was negligent in one way or the other. The kind of evidence required to substantiate a truck-related accident case is significantly complex compared to that of standard car accident cases. Additionally, the proof necessary depends on the precise circumstances surrounding the case and the party to blame for the crash. We at the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can help determine the type of evidence you need to have maximum compensation.
Evidence to Prove Negligence
For you to recover damages through an injury lawsuit, you need to substantiate that the negligence of the party you are accusing led to the accident, causing you to suffer injuries. Negligent acts include improper maintenance, driver error, and negligent supervision or hiring of truck drivers. The kind of evidence needed to prove this includes:
Truck Driver’s Logbook
It is required that trucking companies and truck drivers keep many different records, most of which can be useful as proof in a truck-related accident case. One of these records is the logbook. The driver’s logbook has to be up-to-date to the latest time and date they were on the road. It contains the carrier’s name, truck’s number, and the distance the vehicle traveled within twenty-four hours. It also includes the time the driver started their trip, shipping documentation specifying what’s being transported, and the names of all the co-drivers.
Anything else the driver encounters along the way also needs to be included in the logbook. This includes when they were driving, off-duty taking a break, and when their co-driver took over from them.
Obtaining the logbook information from the trucking company can be challenging though lawyers have legal methods that enable them to do so for you. Additionally, a skilled truck accident attorney will try to find any signs that show certain records might have been altered or falsified to cover up the real cause of the accident.
Photos From the Scene of the Accident
Visual content is one of the most critical pieces of evidence in a truck accident. This is because it will be impossible for the defendant to dispute that the accident occurred or that they were to blame. Videos and images capture the real acts that a person is doing at the exact time. Immediately after the collision, you should make an effort to photograph the scene before the evidence disappears. Different features you can take photos of include:
Skid marks, yaw marks, potholes, gouge marks— this kind of proof may be lost shortly after an accident. Thus we advise you to move with speed and take photos of them. If you are injured and are incapable of taking pictures, have someone else do it for you.
Road signage— if there are any safety and road signs close to the accident scene, do not forget to capture them in your photographs. Road signs may come in handy, especially when the truck driver was driving over the shown speed limits. In other cases, the road signs may be defective to a point they contributed to the accident.
Other autos at the scene— also take photos of any other automobile involved in the crash. An accident reconstruction expert uses these pictures when determining whether the truck driver is to blame. Also, take photographs of your car (if you have one). They will help when bringing a property damage claim against the defendant. It’s also helpful to take photos of other destroyed properties like your laptop or clothes.
The injuries you sustained in the collision— if your injuries are visible, our lawyers recommend that you take pictures of the injuries before you start treatment. This helps to show that you did not sustain the injuries before the crash or way after the accident had happened, but it is the accident that caused them.
Note that you should always take these images from different perspectives and angles. Shots taken at a wide-angle may be helpful as they can show the whole scene. Close-up shots may show the level of damage done to your vehicle in detail. Also, ensure you obtain quality photos and accurate measurements before it’s too late.
One of the steps you should take after involvement in an accident is usually to call law enforcement to the scene. The police will investigate the scene and compile an official report. You have to request a copy of this report since it has a detailed account of the events that took place before and after the crash. This information could be helpful to your lawyer when determining fault.
Cell Phone Data
If the truck driver was talking on the phone or texting when the accident occurred, your lawyer could prove this by subpoenaing their cell phone records. Note that cell phone companies keep these records only for a short period. Therefore, your lawyer should move fast to obtain them.
Truck Event Data Recorder
After a truck accident, more attention is directed on retrieving the black box from the truck. The reason for this is that this box can provide critical information about what was happening shortly before the accident. Based on the model and make of the truck’s engine, a black box can record plenty of data concerning the truck’s operation. It can provide info like the truck’s speed at the time of the crash or whether the driver engaged the brakes before the collision or not. This information comes in handy when determining whether the driver was driving the truck carelessly or was violating traffic rules.
Driver’s Alcohol and Drug Test Results
The legal BAC limit for truck drivers in Nevada is 0.04%. If the level is more than that, then the driver will be considered to be driving while intoxicated. Additionally, the law dictates that truck drivers should not have any detectable amount of drugs in their bloodstream while driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations obligate that Federal, state, or local law enforcement conduct post-accident alcohol or drug tests on drivers if an accident led to bodily injury, severe damage, moving violations, or death. The test results can show whether the driver had illicit drugs in their blood system at the time they were driving or their BAC level was more than the stipulated legal limit of 0.04%. Knowing whether alcohol or drugs contributed to an accident is critical.
Cargo and Loading Records
If a truck accident occurs, the info about the load that was being transported is crucial during investigations. This information can be presented as proof. The evidence needed for the cargo being hauled include:
- The bill of lading
- Weight tickets that are issued at different weigh stations in the course of transportation
- Trip envelopes. These help a driver to claim the money for all the expenses they’ve incurred while on transit. A driver has to record everything that occurs on the trip, including the truck type they’re using so that they have clear documentation of the expenses and they can get paid
- Delivery documents
- Dispatch instructions
Witnesses are the first people to make contact with injured victims. They can provide context to the accident, for instance, the environmental and physical factors that may have contributed to the crash and the conduct of the driver. With modern technology, witnesses might even have video recordings that help discover facts of a crash scene. Thus, eyewitness statements are a critical piece of evidence that you can use in your case.
Immediately after the accident, we recommend that you note down statements from witnesses at the scene as the police interview them. You can also interview them yourself and note down all the details they are telling you. Your attorney will then utilize these statements effectively to come up with a solid case.
In other cases, you may need the witness to testify on the stand. Therefore, we recommend that you take their contact details, including their names, telephone numbers, and addresses, so you can reach out to them later on when you are making your claim. This is because significant time may pass from the time of the crash to when you will be bringing your lawsuit. Thus, it can be challenging to locate these witnesses if you don’t have their contacts because they may have moved or changed their names after marriage.
Alternatively, you may quickly locate the witnesses, but due to the passage of a considerable amount of time, their memories may be fuzzy. In a case like this, your lawyer should interview the witnesses ahead of time and, if necessary, obtain sworn affidavits to preserve their testimony until the trial or deposition date.
Truck Inspection Records
When a truck is involved in a crash, it must have a qualified truck inspector check it before it’s towed from the scene. Even though it is a state trooper who compiles the report, it’s not included in the official crash report. This means you have to request it separately. The inspection report contains critical information about the truck’s condition at the time of the accident.
Truck Maintenance Records
Truck maintenance records are just as essential as the inspection records. Before allowing the truck on the road, the trucking company has to make sure they conduct proper maintenance. The law dictates that trucks should undergo maintenance routinely. The maintenance report will indicate if the vehicle was in the necessary condition to operate when the crash occurred. If I wasn’t, the company in charge of the truck might be to blame.
National Transport Security Board (NTSB) Investigation Report
Following several commercial truck collisions, the federal body known as the NTSB may investigate what caused the accident and compile a report. If this happens, the findings and report could be critical proof in your case.
Testimony from an Accident Reconstruction Expert
Sometimes, there may be an accident reconstruction expert from the NTSB to investigate the accident scene. However, if the NTSB isn’t involved, you could still hire an independent expert. The expert will investigate the scene, kind of crash, weather and road condition, brakes and tires on the truck, etc., and conclude what led to the collision and who’s to blame. After analyzing what he/she has gathered, he/she will then testify concerning his/her findings in court. Whereas you might not be capable of reaching out to any accident reconstruction expert, a skilled truck accident personal injury attorney will help you out. Lawyers may have the means and resources required to hire these kinds of personnel whenever necessary.
Driver and Dash Cameras
The installation of video cameras in the trucks by trucking companies is the newest safety trend that the trucking industry has adopted. There might be a camera facing the truck driver, one facing frontward and recording the roadway in front of the truck, or both. The camera facing forward can indicate whether the driver was following the vehicle before them too closely or otherwise engaging in other risky behaviors. On the other hand, the camera that’s facing the driver could indicate whether he/she was drinking, distracted, looking through the window, drowsy, or doing any other thing that could’ve resulted in the accident.
Most drivers have raised complaints concerning these cameras. They have claimed that they violate their privacy. But trucking companies do believe that these cameras enhance safety and discourage risky behavior while driving. If the truck was installed with cameras, the footage could be vital proof in case a case occurs.
Traffic Citations from the FMCSA or Law Enforcement
Interstate truck drivers aren’t only obligated to obey the Nevada traffic laws and all the rules & regulations set forth by the FMCSA, a federal body. There are several regulations concerning the following:
- Hours of service (requires that truck drivers take rest breaks)
- Driving under the influence
- Driving with severe health conditions
- Prohibition on texting and using handled gadgets while driving
- Truck inspections before the shift begins
Should a driver violate the law and cause a crash, they may get citations for breaking federal and Nevada laws. Under specific circumstances, the citations may be presented as proof of negligence on the driver’s part.
There might be other high-technology devices in the truck that can provide info about a crash. For instance, most trucks have inclinometers, which measure the slope at which they are traveling. GPS devices and onboard computers could also provide vital information that would help your case.
The Qualification File of the Driver
A driver’s qualification file contains detailed information concerning the driver. As per the FMCSA regulations, every commercial vehicle company has to keep a file on the qualifications of their drivers in their employment records. The info includes the driver’s application for employment, yearly review of the driver’s operation records, inquiries that were done to past employers, certification for road tests, yearly certification of violations, and a report from the medical examiner showing a recent medical condition.
The Training File of the Driver
A training file is the same as a qualification file. It contains additional documents or certificates regarding any achievements or specialized operation records. For instance, it has the driver’s training certificate for long combination vehicles, the driver’s certificate for entry-level training, etc.
The Driver’s Inspection Records
The inspection record of the truck driver is their official record that shows they’ve inspected the truck. The inspections are a lawful requirement in Nevada. They include inspecting the:
- Brake and air systems
- Light and reflector systems
- Safety and emergency equipment
- Windshield wipers
- Tiers, wheels, and rims
- Rearview mirrors
- Steering mechanism
- Coupling equipment and fifth wheels
- Any power unit that’s part of the truck
- Oil level
- Engine compartment belts
Having an inspection record helps to show the truck’s condition and if it was properly maintained or not. Info like this is vital when determining who is to blame for the accident.
Evidence to Prove Your Loss
Apart from proving negligence, you need to show the judge or insurance company proof of your losses or injuries so they can believe you are telling the truth and compensate you. This proof is also helpful when determining the degree of losses you suffered because of the truck crash. Your compensation may include both non-economic (for instance, pain & suffering and emotional trauma) and economic (e.g., lost wages and medical expenses) damages. Common kinds of proof used to show your losses include:
Apart from calling the police to the scene, you are also supposed to seek medical treatment after a truck accident. This will help you obtain the medical evidence you need to show the judge or insurance company that you were indeed injured due to the accident and sought appropriate medical care for you to be compensated. Medical proof takes the form of the report concerning the diagnostic tests and physical examination that a doctor treating your injuries is conducted on you. It includes the following:
- Emergency department records
- Notes compiled by the nurses, doctors, and other medical care experts you consulted concerning your injuries
- CT scans, X-rays, and the results of additional diagnostic testing done at your doctor’s request
- Surgical notes about the procedures associated with your injuries
- Written reports from emergency health personnel about your condition and the kind of care they provided at the accident scene
- Lab analysis results, including the results of the blood test
- Charts and notes from occupational and physical therapists.
Medical proof creates a continuous course of treatment, starting from when the accident occurred or from when you first discovered your injuries. The doctor’s examination notes showing the existence of your injuries assist in establishing a connection between the crash and those injuries. Additional medical proof includes psychological evaluation results, testimony from your life care partner, and testimony from your vocational consultant. Medical evidence can help you recover damages like medical expenses (past, present, and future), therapy and rehabilitation expenses, and cost of prescription drugs.
Other pieces of evidence to prove your loss include:
- Timesheets and work pay receipts.
- Tax, business, and other records
- Receipts to show out-of-pocket costs
Evidence has to be Admissible
Collecting proof doesn’t guarantee that you will successfully prove your case. For the proof to be helpful, it should be admissible in a courtroom. If it isn’t relevant, the defendant’s side can request the judge not to consider it.
One example of evidence that’s inadmissible is hearsay. Hearsay is any statement that someone else, apart from the sworn witness makes, that’s meant to prove a case. However, there’s an exception to hearsay, for instance, if the statement is made under a confession. If this is the case, the judge will allow the account to be used as proof.
An admissible piece of evidence is one that’s relevant, competent, and material. Relevant evidence is one that has a reasonable tendency to assist in disproving or demonstrating a given fact of a case. That proof has to, at least, decrease or increase the chance of specific facts of a case being true. After you have submitted relevant evidence in court, and it has been admitted, the court will then determine the weight of your case. A material proof is one that can establish a fact that’s in dispute in a given case. Finally, competent evidence is one that complies with all the legal concepts of reliability.
Working together with an expert personal injury lawyer helps you to understand which kind of proof is admissible and which one is not, so you can only focus on gathering evidence that benefits your claim or lawsuit.
Contact a Skilled Truck Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
The key to successfully gathering the necessary proof to obtain a favorable outcome in your truck accident personal injury case is hiring a personal injury lawyer who understands the factors involved in truck accidents. Your attorney can investigate the accident scene, collect and analyze all the evidence at their disposal, negotiate with the insurance company of the guilty party, and provide constant legal support while you are still recovering from your injuries. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a truck accident caused by a negligent party in Las Vegas, contact the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm at 702-996-1224 for all the legal help you need.