You’re driving along the highway at night when a semi truck comes barreling around a corner, swerves into your lane, and hits your car. It’s obvious to you that the truck driver caused the accident, but to win the compensation you deserve, you need to prove fault.
That’s where it pays to hire a qualified truck accident attorney. As I’ll share in this article, a good attorney will analyze the crash and work with you to prove cause. They’ll help you preserve evidence and make your case to a jury, if necessary.
The truth is that trucking companies expect crashes and are well prepared to fight the accusations, so you must be ready to argue your case, too. Here’s a step-by-step look at the post-accident process so you can understand how your attorney will help you prove cause.
“What Happened Here?”
After your accident, imagine that you’ve hired me, a board-certified truck accident attorney, to represent you. One of the first things I’ll try to answer after taking on a new case is, “What happened here?”
The accident might have been caused by a truck driver looking at their phone, falling asleep at the wheel, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But pointing out what can and does cause a large number of large commercial truck accidents does not answer the question of what happened in your specific case.
Determining the cause of a particular truck wreck takes a team of highly skilled experts. Before we bring the team together, however, our first order of business is to do everything we can to make sure that the trucking company and truck drivers do not take any actions to alter or destroy evidence.
There are two mechanisms I employ for this purpose: the preservation of evidence letter and the temporary restraining order. These mechanisms legally require the trucking company to preserve and to not tamper with the evidence.
Bringing in the Expert Analysis
Next, my colleagues and I put together a team appropriate to the case at hand. We usually immediately send private investigators out to the scene to take photographs and talk to witnesses, and we identify any surveillance cameras that might be on buildings nearby. We also send a reconstructionist to the scene to help us reconstruct the wreck and figure out exactly how the wreck happened.
We hire engineers and mechanics to tear the trucks and equipment apart and to download any computer information off of the truck’s electronic control module (ECM), a computer inside every tractor-trailer. These experts look to see if there were any mechanical problems such as faulty brakes, as an example, that made the truck dangerous to operate.
The information on the ECM will tell us things like how fast the truck was going and when it braked—for instance, did it brake at impact or right before?
Our experts will examine the truck driver’s cell phone to determine if it was being used at or near the time of the wreck. In certain cases, we pull the truck driver’s medical records to see if they had health issues that may have played a role into the wreck. We use high-tech equipment—including drones—to scan the scene and take every measurement possible to recreate what happened on a 3D computer module.
I may not be able to answer the question of how the accident happened at my first meeting with a client, but I will put together a team immediately after I’m hired to figure this out.
Why You Need as Much Evidence as Possible
You might be wondering: Why do I need so much evidence to prove fault? The cause seemed obvious to me.
A reality of the trucking business is that wrecks and claims are part of their business. In order to increase their profits, both the trucking company and their insurance companies will work hard to minimize the amount they pay in claims—how much they pay you.
As soon as an accident happens, trucking companies are prepared and ready to do damage control. Their aim is to limit liability, not to compensate you fairly for your injuries. If you don’t have legal representation protecting you, the trucking company will likely try to pressure you into settling low or will try to make it look like you caused the accident, not their driver.
While you are dealing with the immediate aftermath of a horrible accident, the big companies are thinking about their profits first and foremost. Some trucking companies are experts at twisting the facts and swaying witnesses’ perceptions, which is why you need your own team to collect evidence and protect your rights.
No Time to Waste After an Accident
Even when it seems clear the truck driver is at fault, getting to the cause of an accident is key to the client’s legal case. It’s of paramount importance that the legal team is selected and starts determining the cause as soon as possible after the accident.
Hire a qualified attorney who specializes in representing truck-accident victims. You need a team who knows how trucking companies operate. They should get on the scene quickly, legally protect the evidence, and start analyzing the crash from every angle.
Injuries from truck crashes are often long-lasting and astronomically expensive—you deserve compensation. Only by recreating the crash and clearly showing that the truck driver was at fault can you keep the trucking company from escaping their financial responsibility to you.
For more advice on trucking accidents, you can find Semitruck Wreck on Amazon.
David W. Craig is the managing partner at the law firm of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC. He is board certified in Truck Accident Law. David sits on the board of regents for the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys (ATAA) and has over 30 years of experience representing truck accident victims. David is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and a proud recipient of the Thurgood Marshall “Fighting for Justice” Award. He was also named a top 10 trucking trial lawyer in Indiana by the National Trial Lawyers Association. To connect with David, visit ckflaw.com.
Since 1999 the Indianapolis legal team at Craig, Kelley & Faultless, LLC have been dedicated to helping individuals and their families who have been injured or have lost a loved one as the result of someone’s carelessness. The firm was founded by three attorneys, David Craig, William ‘BJ’ Kelley II and Scott Faultless, since then they have added attorneys and legal professionals to the team and opened four additional office locations to better serve their clients.