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Evidence in Truck Crash Claims

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Largely due to an ever-increasing demand for consumer goods, the number of large truck crashes increased 42 percent between 2009 and 2017. These massive vehicles weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. They also might carry hundreds of gallons of highly-flammable diesel fuel. As a result, these wrecks often cause catastrophic injuries, especially at freeway speeds. Making matters worse, many victims are pinned underneath semi-trucks.

In Florida, truck drivers have a high duty of care, since they are common carriers. This same duty applies to bus drivers, Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and most other commercial operators. Still, victim/plaintiffs must have sufficient evidence to establish negligence. Some common sources of evidence are listed below.

Because of the serious injuries and high duty of care, a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney might be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Event Data Recorder

Large truck EDRs are much like the black box flight data recorders inside commercial jets. EDRs measure and record information like:

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

Any of these items could be critical in a vehicle collision case. Electronic evidence is also very compelling in court. Unlike eyewitnesses, computers are never wrong or biased, assuming the gadget was working correctly.

However, EDR evidence is not always available. Florida has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Generally, attorneys must obtain court orders before they can access and download EDR information.

Additionally, insurance companies often “accidentally” destroy physical evidence, including the EDR, before an attorney can review it. To prevent such destruction, attorneys usually send letters of protection to insurance companies at the outset of a case. These letters create a legal duty to preserve all potential physical evidence, including the EDR, in a case.

Electronic Logging Device

EDRs store operational information, and ELDs store HOS (Hours of Service) data. Such data is often critical in drowsy truck driver claims.

Before the ELD mandate took effect, drivers used paper logbooks to keep track of their service hours. Such logbooks were easy to fake. But ELDs are connected to the vehicle’s drivetrain. So, if the vehicle is in motion, the HOS clock is running. If a driver violated HOS restrictions in terms of hours worked or missed mandatory rest period, the driver might be liable for damages as a matter of law.

Circumstantial evidence is also admissible in drowsy driving claims. For example, the time of day or night is often highly relevant. Most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning or late at night, regardless of the amount of sleep they had the previous night. That’s especially true if the driver recently changed his/her daily schedule.

Safety Maintenance System

Most semi-truck drivers have licenses in several states. The SMS database is like a multistate driving record. This report tracks things like:

  • Crash history,
  • Prior substance abuse issues,
  • Citation history,
  • Vehicle maintenance, and
  • Hazardous materials records.

Generally, information like this is admissible in Florida courts. The more evidence the victim/plaintiff presents, the higher the damages usually are.

Connect with an Aggressive Lawyer

Large truck accident victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.

 

Resource:

fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2017

https://www.eighmielawfirm.com/feds-suspend-large-truck-safety-rules/

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