Until fairly recently, if you were in an accident with another vehicle, you would have to rely on the police report and/or reports from witnesses who saw what happened and stopped long enough to talk with the police officer responding to the accident. Today, though, you have quite a few more options available to you to help you determine cause and prove fault, especially in the case of 18-wheeler accidents.
In the case of a lot of 18-wheeler accidents, it’s hard to see exactly what happened at the scene, and this can be a significant detriment to you if you were not at fault. Fortunately, however, in addition to calling a qualified personal injury attorney with experience with these kinds of accidents, you also have a few other resources on hand.
Get the Government’s Accident Report on the Truck
According to Nolo.com, before being removed from the scene of an accident, a commercial truck must first be inspected by a certified truck inspector. The report from this inspection will not be included in the local police report for the accident, however. To ensure that you and your attorney have everything you need to prove negligence on the part of the truck driver, contact the appropriate government agency to obtain a copy of the report.
Next, find out if your vehicle and/or the truck that caused the accident has an on-board computer that records GPS information, speed at time of impact, or any other relevant information. Some modern private vehicles are equipped with this type of equipment, and almost all 18-wheelers have them, as well. Call your car’s manufacturer and the trucking company to find out how to preserve and obtain this information.
If you are a truck driver, and you’ve been in one or more 18-wheeler accidents, you will also want this information, as it may prove that the other driver was at fault and that you were not guilty of any negligence.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
By far, the most common cause of 18-wheeler accidents in the United States is driver error, usually on the part of the driver. A number of factors may play into this, including driver fatigue, poor road conditions, inadequate training, and/or lack of maintenance on the truck.
By the same, token, a number of 18 wheeler accidents each year occur due to equipment failures. One or more tires may fail due to too much wear and tear. The transmission may fail. Side or rear lighting may be defective. The brakes may fail, and the list goes on.
In cases in which the truck was not properly maintained or adjusted, the driver may not be at fault. Rather, the trucking company responsible for the truck’s maintenance may have been negligent in keeping their vehicle(s) up to par. In this case, whether you were struck by a commercial truck or you were driving the truck when it had an equipment failure, you should call an 18 wheeler accident attorney immediately.
If you are an 18 wheeler driver, you should especially pay attention to this advice, as the determination of fault in 18-wheeler accidents can often result in losing your commercial license or at the very least losing your job with the company you were driving for. If you were truly not at fault in the accident and you did everything in your power to avoid it and/or lessen the impact, you should not be punished for the negligence of your employers. In fact, you may also be eligible for compensation.
Anyone involved in 18 wheeler accidents should consult with a qualified 18 wheeler accident lawyer as soon as possible to get proper legal representation in what can be a very complicated situation.