When two cars of relatively similar size collide, the results are bad enough. When a commercial truck weighing from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds collides with a car, the injuries, property damage, and legal action that result escalate to a completely different level.
If you’ve been hurt in a truck crash, there are complex challenges for you and your lawyer in terms of liability, investigation, and evidence. You need a Sioux Falls attorney with experience handling this type of personal injury claim.
Liability in a Truck Accident Versus a Car Accident
If you’re the victim of a car accident and file a claim for compensation, chances are you will deal only with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In a truck accident, though, there could be more than one liable party to deal with:
- The driver.
- The trucking company.
- A truck or parts manufacturer.
- A truck repair facility.
You might have to file separate claims against any or all of these parties and deal with all their insurance companies. Doing so, especially if you’re under medical care and recovering from serious injuries, definitely requires the services of an experienced attorney.
Investigating a Truck Accident
A truck accident is likely to be investigated not only by local law enforcement but also by the trucking company and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If these investigations yield different or erroneous conclusions, your attorney may have to engage an accident investigator to dispute the findings of the other parties.
Important Evidence to Collect After a Truck Accident
Your investigation of the truck accident is more difficult than a car accident investigation because much of the evidence you need to prove your claim and collect compensation for your damages is in the possession of the trucking company:
- The truck and its maintenance records.
- The driver’s personnel file with driving record and drug/alcohol test results.
- The driver’s logbook with records of hours at the wheel.
- The truck’s electronic data recorder (black box).
You need access to this evidence because trucking companies and their drivers are held to a higher safety standard than other drivers are:
- The legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) for a truck driver is lower than that permitted for other drivers.
- Truckers may drive only for a limited number of hours in a row.
- Handheld cell phone use by truck drivers is prohibited.
- Cargo must not be over the legal weight and must be loaded stably.
Violation of any of these regulations increases the likelihood of negligence leading to an accident. This will help you to prove your claim, so the information the trucking company has is vital to your case. Because the company is actually permitted to destroy this evidence after a certain period of time, it’s important that you retain an attorney as soon as possible to investigate and collect crucial evidence while it still exists.