Severe burns are a good example of the serious injuries caused by truck crashes. Diesel fuel burns at a different temperature from ordinary gasoline. So, many large truck crashes involve dangerous fireballs. These injuries could trigger up to $700,000 in medical bills alone. Serious burns require extensive treatment at expensive burn centers, as well as many months of physical therapy. Even then, the scars and other physical signs are usually permanent.
Normally, the shipping company is legally responsible for these damages. Under the respondeat superior rule, employers are responsible for the negligent acts their employees commit during the scope of employment. On a related note, common carriers, like truck drivers, usually have a higher duty of care. So, it is easier to obtain damages in these claims.
Damages for which a victim can collect compensation include medical bills, lost wages, and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. Since there is usually a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of money a Marion County jury awards, proof is critical in these cases.
In many cases, the victim’s own testimony and the police accident report is sufficient to establish liability for damages. But large truck crashes are often different.
If the victim does not survive, the victim’s testimony is obviously unavailable. For the same reason, the police accident report may be incomplete or inaccurate. In wrongful death cases, the report usually contains only one side of the story.
Additional witness statements are often critical. But emergency responders usually only talk to people who voluntarily come forward at the scene. To find additional witnesses, Indianapolis personal injury attorneys often partner with private investigators. These professionals meticulously go door-to-door to find additional witnesses. Even if they only saw part of the crash or have stories that hurt the victim/plaintiff’s case, these witnesses may be valuable.
Moreover, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains the Safety Measurement System. The SMS database is basically a multi-state driving record which tracks things like:
- Crash history,
- Vehicle maintenance records,
- Driver citation history, and
- HOS (Hours of Service) compliance.
There are also other ways to track HOS compliance in drowsy truck driver cases, as outlined below.
Because of privacy laws, much SMS data is not available to the public, but an attorney knows how to cut through the red tape and obtain this information. SMS records are generally admissible in court. They also create leverage during pretrial settlement negotiations.
The aforementioned privacy laws also apply with regard to electronic evidence. In fact, Indiana has strict vehicle information privacy laws. Normally, attorneys must obtain court orders before they inspect and download gadgets like:
- Event Data Recorder: EDRs are like the black box flight recorders in commercial jets. These devices measure things like vehicle speed, steering angle, and brake application. This information is critical in many truck crash claims.
- Electronic Logging Device: The trucking industry fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. ELDs are that valuable in drowsy driving truck crash claims. Because ELDs are connected to the drivetrain, they provide conclusive evidence about hours of operation and mandatory rest period compliance.
Assuming the devices were working properly, ELD and EDR evidence is essentially bulletproof in court. Electronic evidence like this is also rather easy to authenticate and present to tech-savvy jurors.
Contact Aggressive Lawyers
Large truck crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Indianapolis, contact Holland & Holland. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.