Evidence in Truck Accident Claims

Evidence in Truck Accident Claims

During the coronavirus pandemic, federal regulators have relaxed a number of truck drive safety laws. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has relaxed many drowsy truck driver rules. As a result, the number of large truck crashes has increased significantly.

These massive vehicles weigh over 80,000 pounds. So, when these drivers cause crashes, the resulting injuries are often catastrophic. Even the most advanced safety systems cannot possibly absorb that much force.

Substantial compensation is usually available in these cases. These victims need this money in order to carry on with their lives. To obtain maximum compensation, a San Jose personal injury attorney must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. Some common pieces of evidence are examined below.

Event Data Recorder

Many people do not know that large trucks, and most passenger vehicles, have EDRs. Especially in cases where there were no other witnesses, an Event Data Recorder might be the most critical piece of evidence in a truck crash claim. Much like the black box flight data recorders in most commercial airplanes, an EDR measures and records things like:

  • Vehicle speed,
  • Engine RPM,
  • Brake application, and
  • Steering angle.

Electronic evidence such as this is very useful in court. Assuming the gadget was working properly, an EDR is never biased or incorrect. Furthermore, such evidence usually resonates with tech savvy Santa Clara County jurors.

Attorneys must quickly send spoliation letters to preserve electronic evidence. Otherwise, the insurance company might “accidentally” destroy it.

Electronic Logging Device

As mentioned, some recent rules changes mean there are more drowsy truck drivers on the road. ELDs are usually important in these cases.

Normally, federal rules in this area include strict daily and weekly driving limits, as well as mandatory break periods. Tortfeasors who violate these rules and cause crashes could be responsible for damages as a matter of law.

Before the ELD mandate took effect, drivers used paper logs to keep track of their hours. These log books were easy to fake. An ELD is connected to the truck’s drivetrain. So, this evidence is much more certain.

Long days on the road are only part of the drowsy truck driver problem. Most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning or late at night, no matter how much rest they had the previous night. And, many truckers are behind the wheel at these times.

SMS Report

The tortfeasor’s driving record is sometimes important in personal injury claims. Since most truckers are licensed in more than one state, these records were once difficult to obtain.

But not anymore. Several years ago, the FMCSA rolled out the Safety Maintenance System database. This database is like a multistate driving record which keeps track of:

  • Previous citations,
  • Crash history,
  • Substance abuse issues,
  • Vehicle maintenance history, and
  • Hazardous materials handling.

The SMS report usually draws on law enforcement records instead of judicial records. If Rex attended traffic school to take care of a speeding ticket, that citation probably would not appear in a state driving record. But it probably would appear on rex’s SMS report.

Connect with a Diligent Attorney

Evidence is critical in truck crash claims. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose truck accident attorney, contact Solution Now Law Firm. Home, virtual, and hospital visits are available.

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