A fully-loaded large truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Additionally, these massive vehicles usually carry hundreds of gallons of highly-flammable diesel fuel. This combination often leads to catastrophic injuries, such as serious burns and head or spine injuries.
Frequently, these wrecks occur on isolated freeway stretches where there are few witnesses. That could be a problem for Weatherford personal injury attorneys, because the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in truck crash claims. So, many attorneys must find additional evidence. Fortunately, there are a number of options.
Event Data Recorder
These gadgets resemble the black box flight data recorders inside commercial jets. Investigators rely on black boxes to help determine the cause of an airplane crash, and personal injury attorneys use EDRs for similar purposes.
Capacity varies by make and model. But most EDRs measure and store vehicle operation information like:
Brake application, and
These devices are technically sophisticated. An attorney must have the right tools and training to access EDR information.
That's assuming the gadget is available in the first place. Attorneys must overcome vehicle information privacy laws to access this information. That usually means convincing a judge to sign a court order.
Electronic Logging Device
ELDs record HOS (hours of service) information. So, these computers are often invaluable in drowsy driving claims.
Both Texas and the federal government have strict rules about truck driver work time and off time. If a trucker violated one of these laws and that violation substantially caused the crash, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) might be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
ELDs, and EDRs, are essentially bulletproof in court. Assuming the gadget was working properly, it's almost impossible for insurance company lawyers to successfully block them.
ELDs are subject to the same vehicle information privacy laws as EDRs. There are other privacy laws to consider as well.
Safety Maintenance System
Generally, the tortfeasor's driving record is admissible in court. But many truck drivers have drivers' licenses in several states. It is very difficult to obtain such out-of-state records.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's SMS database often solves this dilemma. An SMS report is basically a multistate drivers' license record which contains information such as:
Prior moving violations,
Vehicle maintenance history, and
Alcohol or substance use.
SMS information comes from law enforcement sources instead of judicial sources. The difference could be significant. Assume a driver was arrested for DWI in another state and a lawyer beat the charges on a technicality. The DWI might not show up in judicial records. But it would probably show up in the SMS report.
Successful truck crash claims are built on solid evidentiary foundations. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.