Fully-loaded large trucks often weigh more than 80,000 pounds. When they cause crashes, these trucks often cause catastrophic injuries and even death. And all too often, the police accident reports, which can be the first evidence obtained in these cases, might be inaccurate or incomplete.
Needless to say, preserving and protecting evidence is critical in a truck crash claim because in Missouri and Kansas, the victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof. An excellent Kansas City personal injury attorney will work fast to ensure that evidence is preserved for trial so that both liability and a person’s injuries or damages can be proved. A person’s losses or damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. Some of the most frequent evidence encountered in a trucking case involves the following:
Event Data Recorder
The Event Data Recorder (EDR) can be critical in crash cases. Much like the black box flight data recorders on commercial airplanes, EDRs measure and store crash-related information such as:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application,
- Engine acceleration,
- and more.
Frequently, trucking attorneys must partner with accident reconstruction professionals in truck crash claims because the physical damage can be so bad that it is difficult for police investigators to piece together what happened. Accident reconstruction professionals are trained in putting together how the accident occurred (based on the crash scene, examining the physical evidence, and talking with the parties and witnesses).
Unfortunately, it may be difficult to obtain any evidence, such as EDR, before filing suit in Missouri or Kansas. Nonetheless, defendants in both states likely have a duty to preserve such evidence, and an experienced personal injury attorney will always send the defendant a letter reminding them of their responsibility to preserve evidence. This can help prevent the defendant or an insurance company from trying to quickly dispose of salvage. These spoliation letters can create or reinforce a defendant’s legal duty to preserve all possible physical evidence, including the EDR, for trial. It is imperative that the insurance company receive this letter within a few days after the crash. Otherwise, it may be too late and evidence may be lost.
Safety Measurement System Report
Frequently, negligent truck drivers have out-of-state drivers’ licenses. Additionally, they are often licensed in more than one state. Until recently, it has been difficult or impossible for attorneys to obtain a comprehensive driving record on these tortfeasors (negligent drivers).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SMS system changed this landscape. The SMS report is like a multi-state driving record which includes information about:
- Driver substance use,
- Vehicle crash history,
- HOS (Hours of Service) compliance, and
- Vehicle maintenance history.
The same privacy laws which protect EDR data often shield SMS data. So, attorneys must often file suit to obtain this information as well. An attorney must also have sharp advocacy skills to use SMS data in court. Many times, these reports are only admissible in limited situations.
Work with a Professional and Aggressive Attorney
Successful truck crash claims hinge on evidence. If you or a loved one has been injured due to another person’s negligence, call Aaron M. House at 816-875-4260 today for a free consultation. There is no fee until we obtain a settlement or judgment on your behalf.
Tags: truck crash claims
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