Why You Should Contact a Trial Lawyer Immediately After a Crash with a Semi
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are over 500,000 accidents a year involving semi-trucks. Approximately 5,000 of these crashes result in a fatality and many more involve serious bodily injury and severe property damage.
In a number of cases, it may not be necessary to retain an attorney immediately following an accident, however, an accident involving a semi-truck trailer is not one of them!! In every collision involving a semi, the trucking company and insurance company will immediately dispatch to the scene of a collision its own crash investigation team which typically include an experienced accident investigator and/or reconstructionist and in many cases an experienced trial attorney, too. In some cases, an insurance investigator may arrive at the scene of a collision even before the police arrive! How do we know that? Many police cars are now equipped with video cameras and recorders. As apart of our investigation, we request copies of not only the police reports and witness statements acquired by the police officers, but we also request copies of any and all photographs and video recordings taken at the scene of the collision. There is an increasing number of videos taken by police officers, sheriffs’ deputies and state police troopers that show a truck driver standing outside of his truck talking with someone who is later identified as an insurance investigator!!!
While some truck accident victims are receiving treatment in a local hospital, an insurance investigator is on the scene collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses and in some cases taking charge of an investigation scene. That is why when our firm is retained, our investigators and reconstructions go immediately to the scene of a collision and photograph, video record and/or "map" or diagram any evidence left at the scene. I also insist on that the police download the data from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM) and/or Event Data Recorder (EDR) otherwise known as the truck’s "Black Box" that diesel trucks are now required to have as standard equipment in a commercial motor vehicle.
All truck companies and their drivers are governed by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). However, the FMVSS do not require companies to maintain their records for the entire length of the statute of limitations. Therefore, as a matter of practice when I am retained regarding an accident involving a semi, I send the trucking company and truck driver a 7 page letter called a spoliation letter.
In Idaho, once the trucking company and truck driver are placed on notice of the existence of a claim for bodily injury, a trucking company is required to take immediate efforts to maintain and preserve certain evidence, if in the attorney’s letter, the attorney sets forth with specificity what evidence the motor carrier is required to preserve. If the trucking company or driver destroys, tampers or otherwise "misplaces" the evidence, then a jury will be instructed by a judge thereafter to infer that the evidence destroyed. tampered or mishandled would be presumed to be adverse to the interest of the trucking company and truck driver. The letter requesting/ demanding the preservation of evidence is commonly referred to as a spoliation letter. The Court may impose additional sanctions against both counsel and the trucking party for failing to preserve any electronically stored information (ESI). In any event, you will want to retain counsel to send a notice immediately to the insurance carrier and trucking company that any and evidence is preserved before it is lost or destroyed.
The EDR contains valuable information stored electronically that can help the investigator/ reconstructionist determine what was happening with the truck leading up to the crash.
It is imperative in any accident that you contact an experienced truck accident attorney to schedule a free initial consultation to talk with you about your case as soon as possible following a collision involving a semi-truck.
Boise Personal Injury and Truck Accident Trial Lawyer Alan Morton has over 31 years of experience in investigating and prosecuting claims for bodily injury involving semi-truck trailers also known as "Big Rig" trucks. There are few things in this life that are free, but a free initial consultation with Boise Personal Injury and Truck Accident Attorney Alan Morton is one of them. Call him at 208.344.5555; toll free at 888.716.8021 or complete the online form at http://www.mortonlawyers.com to schedule a free initial consultation.