When you have been a victim of a truck related accident there are a few things that are critically important for your lawyer to do. Perhaps the most critical among them is the post-accident investigation into the accident. As was mentioned before, the trucking company and their attorneys will stop at nothing to make sure that their driver and vehicle are not found to be at fault in the accident. A thorough post-accident investigation is the key to figuring out what happened and why.
So what makes a thorough accident investigation so important? It uncovers the facts. Most every lawyer that does truck accident litigation will tell you that these civil cases are seldom won or lost based on precedent or any other rule of law; they will tell you unmistakably that your case will be won or lost based on the facts that are uncovered in the accident investigations. You and your attorney must make sure that everything possible is covered and done to make the facts of the case come to the forefront. This in turn will go to work for you securing your lawsuit claim and the monetary entitlement that comes with it.
It is especially important that you understand the legal process in a civil case that involves a lawsuit too. Many people think that if the truck driver did not receive a moving violation or equipment violation as a result of the accident, then they will probably not get any monetary award if they bring forth a civil suit; nothing could be further from the truth and civil cases have shown to be much easier to prove and therefore much easier to win. A great example of this is the case that involved OJ Simpson and the murder of his ex-wife and her lover. Even with what many insiders believe was an overwhelming amount of evidence that Mr. Simpson did indeed carry out the murders, he was somehow found not guilty in his criminal court trial. Quite the opposite happened in the subsequent civil lawsuit and trial that was filed by his ex-wife’s family; the jury awarded them 25 million dollars in damages from Mr. Simpson even though they were not allowed to present nearly as much evidence as was brought forward in the criminal trial. This goes to show you the importance of why you and your attorney need to be aggressive in pursuit of a favorable verdict in your civil suit; it all hinges upon a thorough accident investigation that exposes the facts that support your case against the truck driver and his company. Attorney Poston will use his expertise and experience to oversee that a thorough and detailed investigation is done to uncover any and all facts that will support your case.
Time is of the Essence
The above also emphasizes again why it is so critical to retain legal representation as soon as possible after the accident. If you hire the services of an attorney like Blain Poston right away, they can immediately get to work making sure that the initial accident investigation and any subsequent investigations leave no stone left unturned. The faster you hire an attorney, the more pressure that you will put on the police and other accident investigators to make sure the job is done thoroughly and done right. Also many commercial trucks these days have data recorders in them and other sophisticated computer type technologies that are similar to a black box in an airplane; this type of company owned data is not required by law to be preserved after an accident involving the truck. Attorney Poston, because of his experience, knows how important it is to immediately get a court order to the trucking company who owns the truck that says they can now not legally destroy this information if in fact the truck does possess this type of equipment. The more time that passes before you get Blain Poston or another lawyer working for you, the better the chance there is that some important facts may simply ‘disappear’ or get ‘erased’.
There are four key areas that must be fully and thoroughly investigated in any post-accident investigation that seeks to produce an abundance of facts that show either the truck driver or trucking company involved in the accident were at fault. These key areas of an accident investigation are the physical investigation, the written facts investigation, the Verbal Investigation, and the Intangibles.
So what are the types of things that need to be included in the physical investigation of the accident? The physical investigation involves the accident scene, doing a post-accident truck inspection, and examining any other physical data in the case to uncover facts that show the defendants in the civil case were guilty of some wrongdoing.
The accident scene is one of the most important areas of the truck accident investigation. Blain Poston will almost certainly want to visit the accident scene himself to get a feel for the surroundings as well as hire a professional accident investigator to recreate the accident and uncover important facts in relation to the case. In addition to a professional accident investigator there are also several other professionals that may be hired to help uncover evidence that would establish facts that indicate there was indeed fault on the truck driver’s part or contributing factors to the accident because of the involved trucks faulty working parts. Let’s look at the types of professionals that may be retained by Blain Poston to help make a concrete case against the driver, trucking company, and all others named in your lawsuit.
- Accident investigator – Trained accident investigators are very popular to hire because they have the ability to visit an accident scene and recreate what led to the accident and also get clues as to what happened during it. They are often credited with doing a better investigation than the police because they are more focused on a single task and don’t have the time pressures of opening back up a busy road or highway to traffic. Because of this they will often uncover evidence that was missed in the police investigation.
The accident investigator will look into such things as the lengths of skid marks, conditions of the roadway, weather at the time of the accident, type of roadway surface, and anything else at the scene that may be a potential contributor to the accident.
Just like it is important to get Blain Poston working for you as soon as possible after the accident, the same is true for retaining the services of an accident investigator. Weather will wash away evidence such as skid marks, and subsequent traffic and other things will contaminate the accident scene and make it harder to find the critical evidence that the accident investigator is highly skilled at finding.
- Loadmaster - If the accident involved a rollover or sudden swerving of the truck, the attorney has the option of hiring the services of a professional loadmaster. The loadmaster will look at the vehicle, photos of the accident, and the accident scene itself to determine if an improper load or apparently overloaded truck contributed to the accident in any way.
- Truck Mechanic – Often in these types of civil cases, permission is given to be able to have an expert look at the truck that was involved in the crash. Attorney Polson will certainly try to make this happen. He will have a trained mechanic look at the truck if possible to expose any evidence that its working parts were a contributor to the accident. The mechanic will check such things as the amount of tread present on the tires and look for worn break lines, excessively corroded parts, and other mechanical parts on the truck that may have been defective.
There is no substitute for a thorough and complete analysis of the physical evidence in the case and the potentially extremely helpful facts that it may find. Attorney Polson will exhaust all his resources to make sure a complete physical investigation takes place.
Written Document Investigation
Written documents can be every bit as important in a truck accident investigation as those facts that are uncovered by a physical investigation; it is important that written evidence be pursued just as vigorously. A lot of written documents that are a made as a result of the accident with a truck are public documents that anybody can have access to; these include police accident reports, related traffic citations, and weather reports. Other evidence you will need a written court order to have access to such as, truck maintenance logs, driver logs, truck black box information, and cell phone records. Here are some reasons why some of this written documentation can be so important to successfully proving fault in a civil case.
- Cell phone record from the driver’s phone – If these happened to uncover that the truck driver was on the phone at the time the accident occurred, it could be a significant fact that would strongly support you in your civil suit.
- Truck Driver Log – This will be checked to see if the driver followed mandatory rules which limit the amount of time a driver can be on the road a day without resting. If the rules were not followed then the driver may have been tired while driving which is an extremely dangerous situation.
- Black box transcripts – These recordings are similar to those on an airplane and show such things as the trucks speed at the time of the accident, when braking was applied, and GPS location at the time of the accident. Findings here can be very significant to damaging the defendants’ defense.
- Weather reports – The information from these can show that the truck was experiencing adverse weather conditions at the time of the accident. Things such as fog, ice, snow, rain, and win can be significant factors when it comes to accidents which involve a truck. Often these results are combined with other factors such as truck speed to prove that the truck driver was driving too fast for the conditions at the time of the accident.
- Truck maintenance logs – This log will establish if the truck was having routine maintenance and inspections performed on it on a regular basis. It will also seek to find out if anything was found to be wrong with the truck during its inspection, and if there was did it in turn get fixed. An example of why this is important is as follows: if a truck was found to have less than a safe amount of tread on its tires in an inspection and nothing was done about it, that could indicate wrongdoing and negligence on the trucking companies part.
- Police accident reports – if the police did their job as far as their accident report is concerned, then it can be a very useful tool in your case. A police accident report sheet contains a detailed checklist of things for them to look for. It will contain such things as the length of skid marks, note what the condition of the road area was that the accident took place (i.e. was it a construction zone, broken pavement), and other things such as the weather conditions at the time.
- Drivers employment history – This will reveal how experienced the truck driver that was involved in the accident was. It can reveal such information like the driver was a seasoned professional with a good reputation who worked for one employer for a long time, a rookie who had only been out of driving school for a few months, or a driver that moved from company to company on a regular bases because supervosors were often not satisfied with his driving performance.
- Medical reports – These reports can be very critical in your civil litigation case. Was there a blood test taken? Did it reveal the presence of any alcohol or drugs in the truck driver’s blood stream? It can reveal these and other things which might have prohibited the truck driver from being able to competently operate his commercial vehicle.
- Driver’s License Information – This is another thing which attorney Blain Poston will take a very hard look at. If something is revealed here like the truck driver had a suspended license at the time of the accident, it could be the ‘smoking gun’ that lawyers always look for that leads to winning a civil case.
- Police Citations/ Records – This type of report can tell if the truck driver has a long list of citations such as speeding or reckless driving, these in turn could be very damaging to the defendant’s case. It also can alert Blain Poston if a ticket was issued to the truck driver at the time of the accident and what that ticket was for. If the drivers name comes up in several accident reports it could also indicate a driver that probably should not have been allowed behind the wheel of a truck that a responsible trucking company owned.
- Cargo records – These records can be compared with the factory listed hauling capacity of the truck that was involved in the accident. It just may show that the truck was overloaded which could have been a factor in the accident. If a professional loadmaster’s service was retained by Blain Poston in the case, this is the type of report that would be looked at closely by that person.
- Drivers/Dispatch Delivery Paperwork – These are very important documents to look at in the case. They can show such things as how many miles the driver had to go to his destination and how long he had to arrive there; when this information is combined together it could indicate that the company was negligent by forcing their driver to try and make an unrealistic delivery deadline.
- Drivers records – Similar to the police reports, this could show patterns in the drivers performance or repeated lack of professional driving responsibility. It would show if the driver was accident prone when behind the wheel of a big truck or if he failed to perform routine safety inspections before going on his delivery runs.
- Pertinent truck receipts – Receipts may not seem like they are important, but they can be critical to your investigation. Example: Debit card receipts can show things like two times the driver purchased food at different truck stops on the same day; if they are subsequently analyzed, the difference between the two in miles could show the truck drivers log was falsified because he could not have possibly driven that number of miles if they had truly stopped and rested as indicated in the truck drivers log book. This is an example of why even the simplest pieces of information can make or break a civil suit case.
- Truck inspection/Registration – Here is another potential ‘smoking gun’ in any civil case that involves a truck accident. If the truck involved in the accident was operating with an expired registration or had just recently failed a mandatory inspection but was not subsequently taken of the road; this would make it extremely easy for attorneys such as Blain Poston to prove there was gross negligence on the trucking company’s part.
These are all ways that once again seek to generate the all-important facts in the case and Blain Poston will not ignore them. He will scour through these all important paper documents and expose anything in them that will help prove wrongdoing on the defendants’ part and support your case.
Verbal interviews with those involved in the accident can also uncover key facts in your civil case. Recorded testimony, in person interviews, and other visits to persons that are involved in some way with the case can be vitally important pieces of the puzzle which lead to solving the placement of blame.
Driver interview – Good luck here, a driver would probably not give any information if interviewed, but Blain Poston would attempt to talk to the driver. You never know when a guilty conscious will allow someone to simply tell the truth. If any interviews the driver did with the police were taped, attorney Poston would try to gain access to these tapes also.
Witness interviews – Interviews with eyewitnesses can shed a lot of light on what led to the accident. It could reveal things such as the driver was watching his dashboard TV shortly before the accident or talking on the cellphone. Witnesses may have also seen the truck blow a tire just before the accident which would reveal what most likely caused the accident.
First responder interviews – First responders can also be very helpful if you interview them. They can describe what the scene was like when they arrived and point out if they noticed anything unusual such as a bottle of a stimulant medicine on the floor of the truck cab. This might lead one to assume that the driver was tired and taking it to stay awake.
Police interviews – Interviewing the police officers who responded to the accident scene is always a good idea. It may help to shed some light on what happened and throw up some red flags if the police felt something was strange about the accident. An example of this would be a naked girl in the truck drivers cab at the time of the accident. You may laugh, but these things can and do happen.
This is the area of the accident investigation that has no set variables as to what information is looked at or how the information is to be acquired. It seeks to produce an ‘ace in the hole’ or ‘smoking gun’. The facts it uncovers or a third person testimony that it produces, will overwhelmingly increase the likelihood of a favorable verdict in the case in your direction.
An example of this is uncovering someone in the company that is willing to come forward and testify that they knew the driver involved in the accident was explicitly prompted to meet an unusually tight delivery deadline. Another example could be if there was a tandem truck driving team involved, maybe the other driver will admit the driver behind the wheel at the time of the accident was going too fast for the conditions. It could also be something as simple as a receipt that was found that shows alcohol was purchased with the driver’s credit card a few hours before the accident.
Most of the time intangible facts will only be brought to light because of the result of something like a person coming forward with a guilty conscious or even just plain luck in finding what was uncovered. But these types of things can and do happen and when they are discovered they can often make the entire difference between winning and losing the civil suit.
When Attorney Polson exposes as many of the facts as possible as a result of thoroughly investigating these four key areas, he almost always uncovers something that swings the verdict in the case highly in your favor. He will seek to combine the facts that are uncovered in these four key areas of the accident investigation to overwhelmingly support your case against the named defendants. It’s just another reason that underscores the importance of having a highly competent and skilled truck accident attorney working for you.