Trucking accidents can result in some of the most devastating losses that we see as personal injury attorneys. Cases involving a collision with a commercial vehicle differ from your typical car accident case and needed to be handled accordingly. Trucking accidents require a thorough investigation, the use of experts, and collecting evidence regarding the driver that is more detailed in nature and scope as compared to a typical automobile crash case. The following are some key features necessary to successfully litigate your trucking accident case:
Ensuring the best possible result for your trucking accident case requires the use of experts. These experts may include:
Typically an expert accident reconstructionist is utilized in a standard car accident case where liability is in dispute as well as a trucking accident case. An expert accident reconstructionist will render an opinion as to who was at fault for causing the collision. This type of expert will examine the vehicles involved, the scene of the crash, take measurements and analyze all relevant factors in forming his/her opinion. An expert accident reconstructionist can help recreate the scene for the benefit of the jury during trial to help explain how and why the crash occurred.
Trucking Safety Expert
A trucking safety expert may be used to render an opinion and testify as to what exact standards the truck driver breached when the collision occurred. Because trucking standards are heavily regulated and differ from ordinary rules of the road, this type of expert can help explain to the jury the breadth of training and rules a truck driver is required to meet in order to operate his/her commercial vehicle in a reasonably safe manner.
GPS and ECM Data Expert
A truck driver’s GPS and ECM (Electronic Control Module) data should be obtained and analyzed by an expert.
The ECM is responsible for controlling engine performance, fuel efficiency, transmissions and can troubleshoot mechanical problems. Essentially the ECM will monitor the operation of the vehicle and record relevant data. As such, the ECM becomes a treasure trove for relevant information related to whether there was any type of system failure that contributed to the crash and could have been prevented.
GPS data gathered after a crash occurs to determine how fast the truck was traveling at the time of the crash, the distance between the destination the truck left from and the stop to where the truck was heading, how long the trucker had been operating the vehicle without taking a break, and other relevant information that can be used in demonstrating the trucker failed to use reasonable care. An expert of this nature will be able to explain to the jury the applicable standards and where and how those standards were breached.
Vocational Rehabilitation/Life Care Planner
A vocational rehabilitation expert/life care planner is used in a personal injury case to document the needs that the plaintiff will have in the future. This includes the projected cost of future rehabilitative and medical care as well as an opinion as to what type of employment the injured claimant may obtain in the future. A vocational rehabilitation expert will perform a comprehensive evaluation of the injured party to assess both physical and mental strengths and what limitations the plaintiff’s injuries will have on his/her ability to obtain gainful employment in the future.
Evidence Related to the Truck Driver
Trucking accident cases differ from an ordinary car accident case in that the Defendant driver is a hired professional whose background becomes especially critical in litigating the case. Specifically, the driver’s qualification file, medical, personnel, and training file should all be requested in discovery. These types of records will aid in determining whether the driver had a poor driving history, a medical condition that renders the driver unfit to operate a motor vehicle, failed to complete the basic requisites of his/her training, or has been the subject of any disciplinary action in the past.
Further, the driver’s payroll records, hours of service or driving logs and inspection records should also be obtained. The truck driver should be subjected to both drug and alcohol testing following the collision and these results should be requested to determine whether the driver was at all impaired at the time of the crash. Lastly, as in any collision case, cell phone records must be obtained to see whether the driver was on the phone, texting, or engaging in any other type of cell phone activity prior to the crash. Such a finding may result in an assessment of punitive damages (damages meant to punish the offender and deter the driver and the public from engaging in similar conduct in the future).
The GPS and ECM data explained above must be preserved and downloaded for review. Maintenance records indicating when the commercial vehicle was last serviced and what services were rendered should be obtained to confirm that the vehicle was conforming to regulation. Inspection records both pre and post-crash should also be obtained for this purpose.
Call Dolman Law Group
Navigating a claim for personal injuries resulting from a commercial truck accident is complex. There is no substitute for a thorough investigation to obtain all pertinent evidence and hiring the experts necessary to successfully litigate the case. Dolman Law Group has the resources required to handle your truck accident case and will help guide you every step of the way. For more information call 727-451-6900.
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765