There are around two million commercial trucks registered in the United States. A large percentage of these semi-trucks are registered in three states, one of which is California. Since the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the trilateral trade bloc of the United States, Canada and Mexico, California has seen an ever-increasing number of big rigs on the roadways. With more commercial trucks on California roads, the number of accidents involving semis has also witnessed a surge.
Big Rig and Automobile Accidents
A collision involving an 18-wheeler and a passenger automobile often has catastrophic consequences, mostly for the smaller vehicle. The fatality rate in big rig-automobile accidents is higher than for any other type of vehicle collision pairing. Moreover, injuries sustained by drivers and passengers of automobiles in case of a collision with semi-trucks are severe.
Truck Regulations and Accident Claims
A thorough investigation is vital in the aftermath of an accident involving a commercial truck. Part of the crucial evidence favorable to a claim for injuries or fatality arising out of a semi-truck accident is found at the crash site. This could include damage to the vehicles involved in the crash, debris or skid marks on the road, computer data from the tractor-trailer. Then there is paperwork and record required to be maintained by the drivers and trucking companies which also essential for a crash investigation.
It has been found quite frequently in the investigations that a trucking company, or a specific truck operation, failed to follow the established federal and state trucking regulations which led to an accident. Some investigations carried out in the aftermath of a crash show that the truck company or truck driver may even have circumvented rules and regulations. In some cases, companies and drivers have been found to have made bogus entries in logbooks and inspection reports.
Even appropriately maintained paperwork could be very helpful in determining the causes of an accident. Paperwork might contain warning signs about the condition of a truck before an accident, and highlight the violation of rules in maintaining and operating the big rig.
Accurate records pertaining to the length of time a driver has been behind the wheel at one time must also be maintained. Federal regulations limit the amount of time a driver can operate a commercial truck. He or she is required to take a minimum rest period before going for another ride, or part of ride. But these logbooks which document their hours of operation are frequently doctored before and after the crashes to cover-up safety violations. A court order may be needed to prevent the companies from tampering with the logs after an accident.
The vital importance of the records makes it necessary that this type of evidence is properly preserved. Also, the condition of the semi-truck can play a role in a wreck.
A trucking company may attempt to quickly repair a tractor-trailer following an accident in order to avoid an objective and correct investigation of the vehicle. This could result in the loss of crucial evidence. This is another instance wherein a court order may be required to protect valuable evidence.
For any claim against damages and injury in case of a commercial truck accident, the need for ensuring that all the relevant record is preserved properly cannot be overstated. And this necessitates hiring a highly skilled and experienced attorney who could take on-time and appropriate action to make sure the victim gets the due compensation.