What Evidence is Used to Prove Fault in Truck Accident Cases?
There were 244 fatal truck accidents in California in 2012, making it the second-highest rate in the nation (just after the 543 crashes in Texas), according to the most recent Department of Transportation report published in 2014. That year, 3,921 people died and 104,000 were injured in truck accidents in America.
When you or a loved one have been involved in a serious collision between truck and car, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to assemble compelling evidence that makes liability crystal clear.
Who is at fault in most truck accidents?
The American Trucking Association summarized findings of published research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. They found that car drivers were found liable for 81 percent of fatal truck accidents. Truck operators were at fault in 26 percent of fatal accidents. In 10 percent of all cases, both parties were assigned some liability.
Causes for truck accidents
Contributing factors in truck accidents included:
- Vehicle failures (7% trucks, 4% cars)
- Following too closely (8% trucks, 1% cars)
- Steering overcompensation (1% trucks, 6% cars)
- Falling asleep (1% trucks, 9% cars)
- Heart attack or other physical impairment (2% trucks, 6% cars)
Other associated factors included:
- Brake problems (27% trucks, 2% cars)
- Driver unfamiliarity with roadway (19% of trucks, 10% cars)
- Work pressure (10% trucks, 3% cars)
- Driver fatigue (7% trucks, 15% cars)
- Tire problems (3% trucks, 6% cars)
- Aggressive driving (5% trucks, 9% cars)
- Illness (1% trucks, 8% cars)
- Illegal drugs (0.4% trucks, 7% cars)
- Alcohol (0.3% trucks, 9% cars)
In addition to car drivers and truck drivers, trucking companies, cargo loaders, vehicle maintenance personnel, inspectors, other negligent motorists, or government agencies responsible for maintaining road conditions can be responsible for an accident.
Types of evidence used in truck accident cases
Examples of evidence used in truck accident cases include:
- Black box data recorders – Many commercial trucks contain these devices, which record truck speed history, braking patterns, hours driven, fast accelerations, driver identification, idle time, fuel consumption, time between multiple impacts, changes in velocity, and airbag deployment.
- Truck cameras – Evidence of recklessness or distracted driving can be uncovered from cameras, but the attorney must promptly request this footage so the evidence is not recorded over or intentionally destroyed.
- Drug and alcohol screening results – The FMCSA requires all truck drivers to submit to drug and alcohol testing after accidents involving serious bodily injury or death.
- Driver logs – Drivers must keep records of their hours on the road, their hours at rest, inspections conducted, and known issues with the vehicle.
- Internal records – Inspection records, accident and driving history records, training reports, maintenance records, and other information can prove that the company failed to ensure safe operation of their fleet.
- NTSB accident investigations – Independent accident investigations are often conducted in these cases, but an attorney has to ask to receive access to this information.
- Expert reconstruction analysis – Expert accident reconstructionists use evidence from police reports, the accident scene, black box data, weather conditions, and knowledge of crash physics to build a plausible theory as to how an accident occurred.
- Eyewitness accounts – Witness statements can corroborate important details of your claim.
- Personal records – In an ideal scenario, the injured party is able to write down details of the crash and take photos of vehicle damage and injuries at the time of the accident. Of course, some people do not have that luxury, as they are immediately transported to the hospital for treatment.
- Hospital and medical records – Doctors and medical providers can corroborate evidence of the injuries sustained. Expert medical witnesses can also be brought in to attest to the nature and severity of your injuries, the long-term effects, the standard of care, and the estimated cost of treatment.
Get in touch with a California personal injury attorney
Evidence can fade, be lost, or be destroyed over time, so early data collection is key to building a strong case. Contact a qualified California truck accident attorney from the Ellis Law Firm for a free no-obligation consultation as soon as possible. We can help you piece together what happened and gain just compensation to cover the cost of expensive medical care and rehabilitation. You only pay for our services if we win money on your behalf. Recently, we recovered $1.4 million for a client’s serious injuries from a collision with an 18-wheeler, and $3 million for the family members of a person killed in a truck accident. Call 310-641-3335 at any time to be connected with legal help.
Additional “proving fault in truck accident lawsuits” resources:
- ATA – Relative Contribution/Fault in Car-Truck Crashes, http://www.trucking.org/ATA%20Docs/News%20and%20Information/Reports%20Trends%20and%20Statistics/02%2012%2013%20–%20FINAL%202013%20Car-Truck%20Fault%20Paper.pdf
- Department of Transportation – FMCSA, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/