Truck accidents are always a possibility for most people who drive regularly, especially those of us who spend significant time sharing the road with large trucks. All traffic accidents are dangerous and may cause property damage and personal injury, but accidents involving commercial trucks are often even more dangerous and destructive, as well as more complicated to resolve.
If you experienced a commercial truck accident recently, you may have many things demanding your attention. You may even have physical injuries, a vehicle that you can no longer use, and other setbacks that keep you from performing your job and getting paid. All of these stresses build up quickly and it is not always easy to know how to move forward.
A strong legal strategy helps you assess your needs and the party that holds liability for your losses, addressing them thoroughly. If the truck driver or some aspect of the truck itself caused the accident, then you may have a personal injury claim to build and file, which should be a top priority. Protecting your rights as you heal is a crucial part of recovery.
Gathering evidence for your claim
Gathering evidence after any traffic accident is rarely easy. If you have the presence of mind and do not have serious injuries that require emergency medical care, it is wise to use your phone to take pictures of the accident before road crews arrive to clear away the debris. Once the debris moves, reconstructing the cause of the accident is more difficult.
It is also a good idea to look for any nearby homes or businesses that may have captured video of the accident on their security cameras. Be sure to request this footage quickly, as it may not stick around for more than a few days.
Commercial trucks contain two types of evidence that consumer vehicles typically do not — driver’s logs and electronic control module (ECM) data. Drivers must document how long they drive between stops and how long they rest, to help ensure that they do not experience dangerous fatigue behind the wheel. Unfortunately, many employers pressure drivers to bend or break these rules to make timely deliveries, and driver fatigue is still a serious issue. You may simply ask a driver for their logs to obtain this information.
Obtaining ECM data is a little more complicated and time sensitive. ECMs monitor and record the functions of the vehicle and some of the driver’s behavior behind the wheel, which may help identify the cause of an accident. However, the data in an ECM belongs to the owner of the truck (who may or may not be the driver), and the owner retains the right to delete this data until they receive a formal request to hand it over. The sooner you request this data, the better.
Build your claim for a better recovery
When it comes to your recovery, there is some work that only you can do. For instance, you must do the work for physical rehabilitation, if it is necessary. Other aspects of recovery may benefit from outside help, like medical care and legal guidance. Be sure to use the resources that you have available to heal from your injuries and protect your rights and priorities.