Being involved in a car accident ranges from annoying to devastating, but it always seems to be damaging, time consuming, and complex. If you’re ever involved in an accident involving a truck, you’ll face even greater complexity, especially if you decide to seek legal action.
Truck drivers are responsible for much bigger machines, which often cause more damage than a standard-sized vehicle. On top of that, the complexities of the relationships between the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipping company, and the insurance company can be a nightmare to handle on your own. Fortunately, you can mitigate these complexities by gathering as much information about the accident as possible.
What You Can Gather on Your Own
In the aftermath of the accident, you can gather these pieces of information on your own:
1. Name and identity information. It should go without saying, but make sure you get the name and personal identifying information of the driver. This usually means taking a look at the driver’s license and either taking a snapshot or writing down details like their address and, if necessary, a physical description.
2. Insurance information. You’ll also need to get that driver’s insurance information. This could get complicated, since the truck driver may have a personal policy, they may be covered by their trucking company’s policy, or they may have some hybrid combination of the two. Make sure to get all the relevant information you can, and err on the side of getting too much.
3. Truck license plate and trucking company. Again, this may be straightforward, but get the license plate or other unique information of the truck. You may also be able to get the name of the trucking company involved.
4. Photo and video evidence. If you have a dash cam, make sure to collect and preserve video footage of the accident. Either way, spend some time taking photos and videos of the scene. You’ll want to thoroughly document any damage sustained by all vehicles involved, as well as property in the surrounding area. If you’ve been injured, you may want to take photos of your injuries as well.
5. Eyewitness testimonies. If there are eyewitnesses in the immediate vicinity, consider collecting their information—or their version of events. For example, you may be able to get an audio recording of what they saw, or you may simply jot down their name and contact information.
6. Injury documentation and medical records. Be sure to document your injuries as well, since this will be pivotal information in your potential case. You’ll want to take photos of any visible injuries and write down any subjective experiences you’ve had. You’ll also need to get copies of your medical records as you attend appointments and get treatment.
What You May Need Help to Gather
With the help of a lawyer, or your insurance company, you may be able to gather these pieces of information as well:
7. Driver logs. Legally, truckers are required to keep detailed logs of their activities, including the number of hours they spend, the breaks they take, and so on. Occasionally, these records may reveal that the driver failed to follow proper safety measures, or that they weren’t documenting their activities properly.
8. Onboard sensor data. Many modern trucks are equipped with onboard sensors, which collect the type of information you might find in the black box of an airplane. These onboard sensors may be able to indicate the speed at which the truck was traveling in the moments before impact, as well as whether the brakes were applied, when the brakes were applied, and the force of the resulting impact.
9. Cargo information and bills of lading. It may also be prudent to collect information on the type and weight of cargo being carried, oftentimes through bills of lading. In some cases, the truck’s cargo could be improperly loaded, or too heavy, resulting in a discrepancy that ultimately led to the crash.
10. Vehicle maintenance records. It’s also possible that the accident was caused by faulty or aging vehicular components. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to gather past vehicle maintenance records, determining whether the truck has been adequately serviced in the months and weeks leading up to the crash.
You may not be able to gather all these records, but the more data you have on your side, the better. If you’re overwhelmed by the logistics or complexities of the case, or if you just want to make sure you’re compensated appropriately, make sure you talk to a truck accident lawyer. Only a lawyer will be able to give you expert advice, and most lawyers will offer you an initial consultation for free.