The First 36 Hours: Commercial Vehicle/Truck Accident Handling Guide

18 wheeler or other commercial vehicle truck accident cases should not be handled in the same way as a passenger car accident case.  It is a horrible mistake for a lawyer to assume that a commercial truck accident injury case is just a bigger car wreck.  The lawyer must be VERY familiar with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, commercial insurance issues, and how the trucking industry operates.  These cases also frequently involve multi-state discovery and investigation which is far different than a regular car accident injury case.

We recommend that injured persons hire an experienced and knowledgeable 18 wheeler truck wreck lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.  The investigation process begins immediately following an accident.  Unfortunately, that process is usually one sided, that is, that the company and its insurance carrier immediately begin work to minimize the value of the claim.   If the truck driver gets this type of assistance, so should the injured persons!

In order to both educate the public on the relevant issues, as well as to prepare victims to ensure that their lawyer is doing the correct things early on in their case, we will provide a few general, but important, tasks that must be performed AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after the accident.

Police Report

The first item that should be obtained is the Crash Report.  In many States special forms are used for commercial motor vehicle accidents.  So, the lawyer should be sure to obtain all applicable forms.  It is important to note that it is not uncommon for Crash Reports to contain errors or omissions.

Research

The responsible lawyer will immediately perform an online DOT search on the safety history of the trucking company.  It is critical to obtain this information as soon as possible because the information frequently changes and its important to obtain the information that relates to the company on the date of the accident.  This will also include a Safestat safety rating.  This information is found at: www.safersys.org.  All search results should be printed and stored for later use.

Information Request

The lawyer should immediately send a Freedom Of Information Request to the USDOT in regards to the trucking company.  The items requested must be specifically described and should cover the accident in question, as well as the safety of the company in general.  Our FOIA requests are multiple pages in length and cover every item of information which is recorded by USDOT.

Temporary Restraining Order

In certain cases a Temporary Restraining Order is required.  This is a process where a lawyer files a lawsuit seeking to force the trucking company to preserve vehicles, their contents, key documents, electronic data (including black box and qualcomm) in order to avoid destruction of evidence.  In many cases, if a TRO is justified, it will be necessary to hire an appropriate expert witness to inspect the vehicle for liability purposes.  Sometimes if this is done quickly enough, real “gems” of evidence will be found. For example, it is not unheard of to find pornographic material opened in the cab at the same time that the accident happened.  If the lawyer made no attempt to observe the undisturbed contents of the truck, you can rest assured that the trucking company and its insurance adjusters would clean up any such damaging evidence before anyone observed the same.

Spoliation Letter

The lawyer should immediately send by fax and Certified Mail a letter specifically requesting that the trucking company preserve all relevant information.  Again, it is helpful to specifically state all items that need to be preserved.  Essentially, everything should be preserved, from all electronic data to logs and condition of the truck.  Our spoliation letters are very detailed and are 5-6 pages in length covering every aspect of the truck and records pertaining to trucking operations.  A copy of the Spoliation letter should also be sent to its insurer(s) with a letter placing them on notice of the claim.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident or 18 wheeler accidents, contact the law office of Attorney Brian White & Associates today.  Your case will be handled with the urgency that it deserves in an effort to obtain the maximum recovery.

You can reach us at:
Telephone:  713-224-4878,
Email: info@attorneybrianwhite.com.
For further information about truck and car accident lawyer Attorney Brian White, and to view past case results, visit our website at www.attorneybrianwhite.com.

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