To give you the best chance at winning your accident claim, it’s important that your lawyer starts an investigation as soon as possible. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they can start collecting the evidence outlined below.
Access to the Tractor-Trailer’s Record of Duty Log
The “record of duty” is one of the key pieces of evidence that your attorney will collect as soon as possible after your accident with a tractor-trailer. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that all truck drivers and trucking companies maintain records of duty for up to 6 months. Records of duty contain crucial information that might make the difference in a negligence claim. The log will show a driver’s route, a list of stops made during a trip, and other details that could determine if the driver was speeding or at fault in another way.
A record of duty also shows how long a driver had been operating the tractor-trailer at a given time. Generally speaking, commercial drivers can legally operate their vehicle for a maximum of 11 hours, and they must have 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time between each trip. Your attorney will want to examine the record of duty to see if the driver was in compliance with this requirement. Fatigue often plays a role in tractor-trailer accidents in Texas, so it’s imperative to determine if a truck driver had enough rest.
Computer Data From the Tractor Trailer
Many tractor-trailers have electronic modules (also known as black boxes) that can impart crucial information about an accident. It’s imperative that an attorney obtains a copy of the data from the black box. This should be done immediately following an accident; otherwise it may be too late, as the black box can become unavailable or data can be lost.
Sometimes, if a tractor-trailer is put into service again following an accident, new data can override pertinent information. Failing to obtain the data from a black box may mean losing critical evidence in a personal injury claim.
Documentation From the Scene of the Accident
If you’ve been in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you should gather a quick-response team (including an attorney) to document the scene. You will want someone to:
- Video the collision site
- Take photographs and measurements
- Obtain witness statements
- Gather witness contact information
- Locate nearby surveillance video footage
The defense will likely send their quick-response team to the site immediately. Thus, it’s very important you have someone there to make sure the accident is documented objectively. Obtaining fresh evidence and documentation can be the deciding factor for success in a case. Without it, you may lose your claim.
It’s imperative that you select a qualified, professional and experienced attorney after an accident involving a tractor-trailer. A good lawyer who works exclusively in auto accidents and personal injury claims is ideal. If you’ve been in an accident with a tractor-trailer, contact Patterson Law Group. Fill out the contact form on this page and one of our attorneys will be in touch promptly to hear your story.