After a catastrophic wreck involving an 18 wheeler it is crucial the family contact an experienced attorney immediately. An immediate and thorough investigation after the accident can make a huge difference in the outcome of the case. Unfortunately, big truck wrecks often cause major injury that will result in astronomical past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, excruciating pain, and many other expensive harms. You need a law firm to do the following things immediately to make sure your loved one is properly compensated.
1. Retain a Trucking Industry/Accident Reconstruction Expert: Important information can be lost forever in the investigation is not preformed accurately and immediately. This is the best step to lay the groundwork for a great case. A well qualified expert in the trucking industry can assist in gathering all the evidence necessary to guide the case. Experts know what documents are needed to find out the truth behind the wreck. A expert will examine the brakes, gearing and rear-end ratios, and load configuration of the big truck after the wreck to see if truck meets the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Often these trucks have electronic control modules (ECMs) that record data generated by the truck and its engine. Our firm is equipped with a team of experts who can immediately assist after a 18 wheeler accident.
2. Preserve the Vehicles: We must preserve both vehicles after the wreck. We must contact the trucking company immediately and demand they preserve the truck. When we inspect the truck we are looking for when the truck went back to service, photographs of the truck, all the full and complete repair records, the names and contact information of the person who decided to repair/not repair the truck and place the truck on the highway, all drivers of the truck in the past, and the mechanics who worked on the truck before and after the accident. The accident victim’s car should preserved and inspected just as closely as the big truck was inspected.
3. Visit the Scene and Inspect the Vehicles: We will visit the scene with our expert as soon as possible. Some signs to look for are scuff marks and other markings on the road surface that may help prove how the wreck happened and who was at fault. Photographs should be taken from all angles of the scene including all road signs, intersections, foliage and other facts that could influence the case. Details make the difference. Accurately measure the roadway and any grades approaching the point of impact. Also measure the shoulder widths, and any potential escape routes that may have been available to either driver.
4. Seek and Preserve Records and Documents: Within hours after of the wreck, a letter and a phone calls should be sent to the trucking company demanding the preserve all of the following information: the trucker’s log book, maintenance records, the truck driver’s employee file from the company and the state, bills of lading, drug and alcohol testing records, truck driver’s physical reports, witness statements, truck repair records, photographs, safety records, driver/vehicle condition reports, fuel receipts, toll tickets, fuel tax records, electronic control module downloads, equipment lists, toll tickets, engine records, and all other potentially relevant evidence. This letter should be sent via certified mail.
5. Acquire the Police Report and Investigation Notes: Drive to the police station and pick up the police report. Most importantly, visit/interview the investigating officers who prepared the report. We are looking for all the facts about the wreck and any statements made by either party after the wreck.
6. Interview Emergency Responders, Tow Truck Drivers and others: These folks often know a tremendous amount of information about the amount of damage the accident victim suffered. They also overhead all conversations, statements, or gestures they may prove helpful. The tow truck driver was in the cab of the truck and we ask them if they say pill bottles, beverage cans, an open cell phone, partially eaten food, or any information that might aid in determine the causing factors of the wreck.
7. Find All Witnesses: Interview all witnesses as soon as possible. Other drivers on the highway, surrounding businesses, surrounding homes, pedestrians, and the list goes on. Our firm records these conversations if possible.
8. Check Media Outlets: Another source of information is the local media. Often times the media has taken television footage or professional photographs of the accident. Reporters often interview witnesses and tape or record the interview.
Contact our firm immediately after a big truck wreck and let us promptly start the investigation. Taking these steps will ensure a proper foundation to successful litigation.