Proving Liability in Truck Crash Claims
Since 2007, the large truck accident rate has increased 40 percent. Crash severity has increased as well. Regulators recently raised weight limits, so these massive vehicles now weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Additionally, most trucks carry hundreds of gallons of explosive diesel fuel. As a result, truck crash injuries are normally catastrophic.
Since so much is at stake, insurance company lawyers usually do whatever they can to reduce or deny compensation. A Brandon car accident attorney, on the other hand, does everything possible to obtain maximum compensation for accident victims. This process typically begins with evidence collection. And, evidence collection in large truck claims is a lot different from evidence collection in car crash claims.
Event Data Recorder
These gadgets are much like the black box flight recorders in commercial jets. EDRs measure and record operational information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Engine RPM,
- Steering angle, and
- Brake application.
While both commercial trucks and passenger cars have EDRs, the approach is different. In car crash claims, electronic evidence is often a supplement. But in truck crash claims, it might be the only evidence available. Frequently, truck crashes involve explosive fireballs. As a result, very little physical evidence remains, other than the EDR.
Large truck EDRs are extremely sophisticated. Attorneys and investigators need special tools, and special expertise, to access and download this information.
The extra effort is normally worthwhile. Electronic evidence resonates very well with tech-savvy Hillsborough County jurors. And, there is normally a relationship between the persuasiveness of the evidence and the amount of damages jurors award.
Safety Maintenance System
Most large truck drivers have licenses in several states. Thus, obtaining a complete copy of the tortfeasor’s (negligent operator’s) driving record is sometimes a problem.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Maintenance System solves this dilemma. SMS reports are basically multistate driving records which include information like:
- Crash history,
- Vehicle maintenance background,
- Drivers’ citation history,
- Prior substance abuse issues, and
- HOS (hours of service) compliance.
HOS compliance is often an important issue in drowsy truck driver claims. More on that below.
Electronic Logging Device
Fatigue is a serious problem among truck drivers. These individuals drive for long hours with few breaks. Drowsiness affects concentration, motor skills, and judgment ability. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial operators in Florida.
HOS rules include daily and weekly driving limits as well as mandatory break and rest periods. Drivers who violate these federal or state rules and cause crashes could be liable for damages as a matter of law. So, this area is a potential game-changer.
Before the ELD mandate took effect in the spring of 2019, truckers kept track of their hours in paper log books that were easy to fake. ELDs are attached to the truck’s drivetrain. So, while the vehicle is moving, the clock is ticking.
This critical evidence is not always immediately available. Florida has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Normally, attorneys must obtain court orders before they can access, download, and present ELD information.
Connect with Aggressive Attorneys
Evidence is critical in truck crash claims. For a free consultation with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).