The trucking industry is highly regulated by extensive federal guidelines that govern every aspect of truck driving. Yet despite these rules, reckless and negligent truck drivers and careless trucking companies still cause terrible accidents almost every day on Georgia highways. Whether you call it a tractor trailer, semi-truck, 18-wheeler or a big rig, trucking accidents with smaller passenger vehicles usually result in death or catastrophic injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, it is important that you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Trucking accidents are far more complicated than automobile accidents and require greater initial diligence to preserve evidence that may be key to maximizing the value of your case. Although they are highly regulated, trucking companies and their drivers are often violate the regulations and guidelines when an accident occurs. More importantly, because their attorneys and insurance carriers know how to aggressively defend these types of cases, it is in your best interest to hire a seasoned attorney who is adept at navigating the legal nuances of a trucking accident case.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety guidelines provide strict rules and regulations that the trucking companies must follow, including:
- The process by which drivers are hired and their backgrounds are checked.
- Compliance with a driver’s annual safety review.
- Regular drug and alcohol testing of drivers.
- Maintenance and inspection requirements for trucks.
- Rules for how long such records should be retained.
- Strict adherence to the rules regarding the number of hours truckers can drive.
- Rules regarding warning devices and signals to be used after a break down.
Diligence and Timeliness
Immediately following a trucking accident, it is very important to gather all of the information from the trucking company as soon as possible. It is crucial that you get key information before they dispose of key records and indispensible equipment, like the on-board computer, drivers’ logs, or the truck itself. It is important to give notice to trucking carriers that they should preserve evidence and retain all maintenance and employment records. All trucks have an on-board computer module, similar to an airplane’s “black box”, which records relevant data about the operation of the truck. The computer can provide valuable information for your attorney regarding everything from how many miles the truck was driven on a particular day to the speed it was traveling at the time of the accident.
Trucking companies are only required to retain their records for six months. After that, they can be destroyed. In order to be successful in the pursuit of a lawsuit against a trucking company, your attorney needs to complete an exhaustive review of the trucking company’s records and documents. The driver and company’s risk manager need to be deposed and their testimony needs to be preserved. If you are not thorough, you may lose out on the opportunity to review those crucial documents, and thus affect your ability to get the maximum value for your case.
To learn more about how to pursue personal injury litigation, please contact our firm and complete the Initial Case Evaluation Form by clicking here. Your initial consultation is free of charge. It is important to know that there are certain time limitations under the law and your failure to act in a timely manner may result in the loss of your right to pursue the appropriate legal remedy for your personal injury.