Big truck accidents, such as semi-trucks or 18-wheelers are a different type of case in Michigan than a standard car accident. Because most big commercial trucks have higher insurance policies, and also can cause severe personal injuries or even death, the litigation of these cases is intense. That is why it is essential to have an aggressive and knowledge Michigan truck accident law firm on your side from the very beginning.
Steps to Take to Help Preserve Evidence After a Truck Accident
It is very important to preserve as much evidence following a truck accident in Michigan. This evidence can be utilized by your lawyer to help prove your case and get the best outcomes possible. This process must start immediately, right after the accident. Here are some helpful hints of steps to take as part of your own truck accident investigation.
Call the Police
It is imperative the police or law enforcement is called to the scene. Responding officers will do an investigation of the accident and help determine who was at-fault for causing the crash. They will get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the drivers. They will also compile the names of passengers and witnesses. Often, they will conduct a blood-alcohol test or field sobriety test of the driver of the large truck.
Take Photographs of the Accident Scene
It is very important to take photos of the accident scene if possible. Take photographs of all the vehicles involved, not just your vehicle. Photograph or video the vehicle damage so this is preserved. Take pictures of the license plates of all the vehicles involved. Take photos from different angles so later on your lawyer can more easily recreate the accident scene and how the crash occurred.
Get Names and Telephone Numbers
While still at the accident scene, try to get the full names and addresses of every person involved in the accident. If you are unable to, try to have a friend or family member do this for you. The police responding to the crash often do not get the names and information of witnesses. They fail to list them in the police report. When this happens, these important people to your case can be gone forever. Don’t let that happen. Get the information yourself and store it on your cell phone.
Call a Michigan Truck Accident Lawyer
After you have helped preserve evidence, call an experience Detroit truck accident attorney. An attorney who specializes in trucking litigation will know what to do with the evidence you have collected. In addition, the trucking law firm will do additional work to help solidify your case and prevent any defenses the trucking company will try and come up with.
Here is a list of some of the things a good Michigan truck accident lawyer will do on your behalf following the crash.
Send a Preservation Letter
The trucking lawyer should immediately mail and email a letter asking the trucking company to preserve the truck involved in the crash, as well as all evidence pertaining to the truck driver and the accident itself. This includes the daily driver logs, dash cam video, information stored on the electronica data recorder or “black box” and other evidence.
A preservation of evidence letter puts the defendant on notice to retain all records.
Hire a Truck Accident Expert and/or Accident Reconstruction Expert
Experts are very important in these cases. They can provide guidance on what evidence to obtain and then analyze this evidence to come to important conclusions about why and how the crash occurred.
An accident reconstruction expert will analyze the police report, information stored on the black box, photographs of the vehicle damage and accident scene, take measurements of skid marks, and look at other data to help explain why the truck driver was at-fault for causing the wreck.
A truck safety expert can help impute negligence on the part of the driver and the trucking company. For example, a truck safety expert can explain what the truck driver did wrong and what the proper safety protocols were for the situation. This expert can also help prove negligent hiring and negligent supervision on the part of the trucking company.
It is important that a truck accident lawyer and their experts inspect the truck. This includes looking at the brakes, the engine, sleeper unit, control panel and the trailer itself. A thorough inspection can provide important clues that the trucking company failed to follow federal and state safety regulations. This can help prove negligence on the part of the defendants.
Talk to Witnesses
A good Michigan truck accident law firm will also talk and interview all witnesses. Because witnesses can disappear, it is important to talk to them as soon as possible after the crash. They will also have a better memory of what occurred. Once a witness statement is made, he or she is locked in so they can’t change their testimony at a later date.
Inspect the Driver’s Logs and the Truck Company’s Documentation
In addition to visiting the accident scene and hiring good experts, an aggressive Michigan 18-wheeler accident lawyer will ask for and obtain the driver’s daily logs pertaining to the trip. Logs are now often done in electronic form so it’s important to get all data and meta-data from the trucking company. Important information to obtain also includes dispatch records, medical expenses reports, inspection reports, repair notes and repair invoices, bills of lading, safety reports and other documents.