While every truck accident is unique – including the cause, the damage, and who is responsible – there are many common variables that are important to understand if you have been involved in an accident. After all, the repercussions of truck accidents can be serious. You’re likely facing a pile of bills without a good sense of how – or when – you will be given compensation to pay for them.
While your attorney should do the heavy lifting to make sure your case is on track, it can help the process move more smoothly and give you peace of mind if you understand a few basic elements.
If you have been injured in an accident, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified, experienced attorney at Colombo Law to review your case. Insurance companies might already be hard at work disputing your claims, so it’s important not to waste any time finding the help you need to ensure you don’t jeopardize your claim.
Police Reports: A Necessary First Step
While it’s generally assumed that the police will show up for any accident, this actually isn’t the case. For minor accidents, the police might not come to the scene at all, especially if they’re busy with other calls. However, with a serious truck accident, the police must arrive at the scene to file a report.
In Ohio, police reports are required after a motor vehicle accident if:
- An injury or fatality occurred
- More than $1,000 in property damage occurred
Injury, significant property damage, and death are not uncommon outcomes in a truck accident. As a result, it’s rare for a truck accident not to involve a police report.
When the police are called and arrive at the scene, you will be asked to give your side of the story. When being interviewed by the police, simply answer their questions and stick to the facts. After all, this police report may be considered evidence in your case.
If your claims don’t match up to what is in that report – or something you said could be taken out of context – it could hurt your chance of winning compensation.
Witnesses: A Pivotal Point of View
Eyewitness testimony can be an extremely important component in truck accident cases. For example, if two parties’ stories about what happened don’t line up, testimony from people who saw the accident take place can make or break the final decision.
While a good truck accident lawyer will help track down potential witnesses, it’s also ideal for those involved in an accident to attempt to talk to witnesses at the scene, whether it be other drivers, employees at nearby businesses, or anyone else who might have seen the wreck occur.
As with the police report, it’s important to stick to the facts in these interactions, starting with their information, including their names and phone numbers. Then, ask them straightforward questions about what they saw.
If you do suspect that there was distracted driving or some other identifiable action that caused or contributed to the accident, make sure to ask them if they noticed anything related to that as well.
Accident Reconstruction: Show & Tell
Ultimately, whether or not you win your case is determined by whether someone’s actions were outside the accepted standards for safety and care, and did that negligence lead to the accident and your subsequent injuries?
There are a handful of important factors that play into this question, including:
- The accident scene: Analyzing an accident scene helps us understand the details surrounding the incident, giving us a complete baseline for what unfolded. This is an important step because it holds everyone accountable. If, for example, a truck driver claims they were swerving to avoid an obstacle or pothole in the road, knowing whether or not that obstacle or pothole actually exists could play a huge part in your case.
- Witness testimony: As discussed above, witness testimony can be a significant element in truck accident cases. In fact, witnesses sometimes have a better understanding of what happened than the drivers themselves, since they had a more complete view of the situation.
- Environmental factors: Another important thing to look at is any environmental factor that could have played a part in the accident, including weather. For example, maybe it was raining when the accident happened, in which case the truck driver may have been expected to exercise greater care behind the wheel than if the conditions were clear.
These are just a few of the many things that go into reconstructing an accident. Ultimately, facts and evidence are what cases generally hinge on, so it’s important for us to learn as much as we can to develop a full understanding of what happened.
At Colombo Law, we make this easier by working with accident reconstruction specialists who are able to take all of this information to provide a cohesive, visual explanation of the accident.
After all, it can be hard to merely describe a truck accident. To truly understand what happened, you need to see it, which is why this work can be so valuable, particularly if you end up going to trial and needing to present to a jury.
The good news is that we can handle all of this for you. We have established working relationships with a number of specialists – from medical professionals to forensic experts – who can do the work needed to serve as expert witnesses in your case and help solidify your claims.
Truck Driver Reports: Examining the Logs
While driving a truck is a difficult job requiring many hours of focused attention on the road every day, there are rules and regulations surrounding truck drivers and their time management. For example, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations state that they’re only allowed to drive up to 11 hours at a time and that they must take at least a 30-minute break for every 8 hours behind the wheel.
While these laws are clear and enforceable, it’s not uncommon for truck drivers – and trucking companies – to bend the rules.
In fact, trucking companies are often guilty of ordering drivers to break these laws and lie about it in their documentation. Therefore, we need to take a look at reports on the truck driver’s past behavior to see if there are any troubling patterns.
In addition, we’ll want to do a background check. If the driver has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, including DUIs and other violations, it might be illegal for them to have been hired in the first place. This has happened before, and trucking companies have been found liable for hiring drivers without performing proper background checks.
While the financial pressures of running a trucking business can be challenging, negligent hiring practices are extremely dangerous for everyone on the road. Laws are designed to stop this kind of behavior, and our goal is to hold trucking companies accountable when they break the rules and people get hurt.
Mechanical Reports: Was It Broken?
It’s not just truck drivers and trucking companies that can be found at fault for an accident – truck parts manufacturers might also be to blame. For example, if there was a defective part on the truck and the manufacturer knew about it, they could ultimately be fully or partially liable for a truck accident victim’s damages.
This is why, when working on a truck accident case, we collaborate with expert mechanics who can analyze the truck to determine if mechanical failure was partly to blame for the accident.
Find a Legal Advocate You Can Trust
At Colombo Law, we’re focused on being the kind of attorneys we would want to represent us after a serious truck accident: smart, experienced, compassionate, and relentless. That’s why we’ve won 99% of our cases while achieving incredible results for our clients.
If you’d like to speak with us about your situation over a free case review, don’t hesitate to reach out by calling (614) 362-7000 for service in and around Columbus, Ohio. We never charge our clients unless and until we win their cases, and we’ll do whatever we can to help you through this difficult time.