Tractor trailer crashes are on the rise. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that 5,700 people were killed in semi-truck accidents nationwide in 2021. Many thousands more people sustained severe injuries. Truck accident claims are notoriously complex. It is imperative that these crashes are comprehensively and proactively investigated by an experienced lawyer. Some unique issues can arise in large truck accident cases. In this article, our Stockton semi-truck accident lawyer highlights five key things that should be evaluated after a tractor trailer collision.
Investigating a Commercial Truck Accident: Key Issues that Must Be Reviewed
- The Crash Scene (Vehicle Damage, Witness Statements, etc)
As a starting point, the immediate scene of a semi-truck crash in Stockton should be proactively investigated. A prompt evaluation of the scene of the wreck is actually one of the keys to building a successful claim. Among other things, you should document:
- Vehicle Damage: The state of all vehicles involved offers significant insights. Look for points of impact, scrape marks, and other damage patterns. These can provide valuable details about how the accident happened.
- Witness Statements: Bystanders, other drivers, or even passengers might have seen the incident from various angles. Their accounts can provide a clearer understanding of the events leading up to the crash. Be sure to get contact information for witnesses.
- Photographs: Be sure to take photographs of all relevant details of the scene of a semi-truck accident. Beyond taking pictures of the vehicle damages, you should document skid marks, road conditions, and any injuries that you sustained.
- The Conduct of the Truck Driver
A significant number of semi-truck accidents are caused by negligent truckers. The conduct of the trucker immediately before the collision should always be evaluated. Any evidence of negligence or reckless behavior by the truck driver can be significant. Was the driver speeding? Was the trucker using a phone? Was the driver displaying signs of fatigue? These could all be evidence of negligence. Beyond that, drug and alcohol tests may need to be administered. If the trucker’s negligence contributed to the crash, you will often need to find evidence at the scene of the crash itself to prove fault. An experienced Stockton, CA tractor trailer accident lawyer can help.
- The Training and History of the Trucker
The truck driver’s history can also be a relevant factor in a tractor trailer accident injury claim in California. Ensuring that truck drivers are adequately trained and competent is the responsibility of their employers. Indeed, truck companies can be held responsible for their failure to ensure that their driver’s are reasonably safe. If a trucker is involved in an accident, their training records and driving history should be scrutinized. Here are key things to check:
- Training Records: Was the truck driver adequately trained for the kind of vehicle they were driving or the type of cargo they were transporting? These are big questions that need to be addressed after a truck accident. Corporations should train their drivers.
- Driving History: A trucker’s previous violations, accidents, or even testimonials from past employers can offer insights into their behavior and proficiency. In some cases, an investigation will reveal that a truck has a long history of safety violations.
- The Truck Maintenance and Inspection Records
A commercial trucking company has a legal responsibility to ensure that their vehicles are in safe and proper condition at all times. Due to their immense size and the long distances they cover, large commercial trucks require rigorous maintenance. Relevant records may include:
- Maintenance Records: Regularly scheduled maintenance checks can reveal if the truck was kept in proper working order. Issues like brake failures, tire blowouts, or engine malfunctions can be traced back to neglect or inadequate upkeep.
- Inspection Reports: Trucks are subject to stringent safety inspections. A review of the truck’s inspection history can provide information about any previous issues or concerns that might have contributed to the accident.
- The Loading of the Trailer
An improperly loaded trailer can make a truck accident more likely to happen. The way a trailer is loaded can impact the stability and maneuverability of a truck. Improperly loaded or overloaded trailers can cause a truck to tip over, especially during turns or sudden stops. Here are some key records that your Stockton, CA truck accident lawyer may need to obtain after a crash:
- Loading Records: Was the trailer loaded according to industry standards? Was the weight evenly distributed? All of these issues matter.
- Cargo Shift: In cases where the cargo isn’t secured properly, it might shift during transport, making the truck hard to control, especially during sudden movements.
You Cannot Rely On an Insurance Company to Conduct a Truck Accident Investigation
While insurance companies play a pivotal role in the aftermath of any vehicular accident, relying solely on them to conduct a thorough truck accident investigation is a mistake. At their core, insurance companies are for-profit businesses that are aimed at protecting their own bottom line. Their primary interest is in minimizing the amount they have to pay out in claims, which might not always align with a victim’s best interests.
When an insurance adjuster reviews an accident, their approach is often geared towards finding reasons to reduce the claim amount or dismiss it entirely. This could mean overlooking critical evidence, downplaying the severity of injuries or damages, or even trying to shift the blame back on to you as the injured victim. Every large truck accident should be carefully investigated by an experienced Stockton, CA semi-truck accident lawyer.
Speak to Our Stockton, CA Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Today
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton semi-truck accident lawyer is standing by, ready to protect your rights and your interests. We hold truckers, truck companies, and insurance carriers accountable. Call us now or contact us online for your free, no strings attached initial case review. From our legal office in Stockton, we handle truck accident claims throughout the region.