After you are injured in an accident with a commercial truck or 18-wheeler, the trucking company and its insurance representatives will start taking action to collect evidence from the scene and limit its potential responsibility for your injuries. To protect yourself and the success of your potential injury claim, you should also try to collect evidence and information about the crash for your own records. This information can be crucial to helping you prove your injury claim later. However, you need to get started as soon as possible because the evidence you need can disappear quickly. If you have already been hurt, here are some ways you can take action now.
Truck Accident Evidence You Can Collect on Your Own
Even before you speak with a lawyer or consider filing a claim for compensation, you should be keeping your own documentation of the accident. This might include photographs of the accident scene and your injuries, a record of your medical visits for your injuries, a copy of the police report, names and contact information for witnesses and drivers, and your own written accounts of what happened and how your recovery is progressing.
It doesn’t even necessarily have to be difficult to collect this evidence on your own. In the moments after your crash, your cell phone alone can be used to:
- Call 911. Not only can you call for help, you can record the call as evidence. Some smartphones have apps that will record your conversation and save them to a file on your phone, which can be used as evidence later.
- Take pictures. Forget the old, disposable camera packed in your trunk. Many phones have high-quality cameras built right in. If you or a loved one can do so safely, take pictures of the damage to your car, damage to the semi, the placement of the vehicles, and the conditions of the scene.
- Record video. Unlike photos, videos give a full picture of the accident scene. They allow the victim to speak his or her thoughts in a voice track over the images, and they can record people’s actions and behavior in the moments after the crash. Record as much video as your phone will allow—it may be useful later.
- Take notes. Don’t waste time looking for a pen and paper. Type names, addresses, and phone numbers directly into your phone so you can read them clearly later. Better yet, use your phone’s voice memo feature so you don’t have to worry about misspelling any of the information.
- Call your attorney. The trucking company’s adjusters will be on the scene almost as soon as the emergency crews arrive. If they have their legal advisors on hand to protect their interests, you need yours by your side to do the same for you.
Ultimately, you want to document as much as possible and hold on to anything you receive that is related to the accident. Collecting this information yourself, or having a friend or a family member do so while you receive medical treatment, can help you protect your rights and get important documentation of the facts about what happened. However, your investigation into your accident with a large truck shouldn’t end there.
Even if you haven’t yet decided to pursue an injury claim, it’s still important to collect evidence as though you will. If you wait too long to take action or request information, much of the evidence you need to support your claim can become difficult or impossible to obtain, severely limiting your ability to hold the trucking company responsible.
Truck Accident Evidence That May Require Legal Assistance
Truck accidents are very unlike accidents with other passenger cars. Truckers and trucking companies deal with trucks and industry regulations as part of their workday, and they have a lot to lose when they are held responsible for causing an accident or breaking the rules. This means that some key evidence in trucking accident cases may be very difficult for an individual to collect. Sometimes, legal intervention is needed to make sure that the trucking company and its representatives release the information or preserve what they’ve found.
Although it’s technically possible to collect all the evidence you need for an injury claim on your own, many truck accident victims have trouble obtaining and coordinating all of the information they need to truly hold a large trucking company responsible. An attorney who has experience working with truck accident victims can take the necessary action to obtain trucking-specific evidence, such as:
- The truck’s “black box”
- The trucking company’s driver and maintenance records
- Security camera tapes
- Other potential sources of evidence to support an injury claim
And this is the kind of information that can really matter when a victim’s injury claim is called into question. Take the example of the truck’s “black box.” These days, more and more 18-wheelers come equipped with "black boxes" or "Data Event Recorders." These devices track all sorts of data at the time of an accident, including speed, steering, braking, and more. These devices also typically record information on the driving patterns of the truck for extended time periods before the crash. This information is extremely useful when determining why an accident happened and if the truck was responsible. When we are hired on a truck accident case, we always immediately take steps to preserve any black-box equipment that may be available. Then, we hire experts to download all of that data to a computer, and we use that information to support our client’s case.
Along with accessing information that may not be directly available to you, an attorney will also be able to walk you through every stage of building your case, including:
- Obtaining evidence. In the aftermath of a serious accident, victims aren’t always able to collect—or even think about—the evidence they may need if and when they file an accident claim. An attorney can immediately take steps to obtain all the evidence you may need to prove your claim, which might include sources of evidence that you hadn’t considered.
- Preserving evidence. As the weeks and months pass after a truck accident, it’s easy to lose track of evidence, fail to follow up on sources of potential evidence, or just get sloppy with what you keep or throw away. An attorney can make sure that the information you need is properly documented and ready when you need it. An attorney can also make sure that any evidence the trucking company found in its own investigations is appropriately preserved.
- Organizing evidence. All the evidence in the world is useless if you can’t figure out how to use it to support your claim. By working with an attorney, you give yourself the best chance of wielding all of the information you have collected to get the results you want in your claim.
To help you understand just how big an issue “proof” or “evidence” can be, here are two real-life examples of cases where our attorneys’ ability to obtain and preserve evidence made a difference for victims of truck accidents:
Do You Need Help After an Accident With an 18-Wheeler?
For more information about your rights after you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, request your free copy of our book, The Truth About Texas Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Accident Cases. This book will help you understand what to expect when you’ve been seriously hurt and explain why it’s so important to document your experiences. If you have immediate questions about an accident or injury claim, you can also reach out to our experienced attorneys at 1-877-724-7800 or by starting a Live Chat now.