Following a severe truck accident, most people find themselves with injuries, worried about expensive medical bills, and unable to work. While you can file a personal injury claim and pursue compensation for your injuries and incurred losses, receiving the monetary award is not always straightforward. Your case outcome depends on the type of evidence you can collect and use to support your claim. Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm has many years of combined experience representing personal injury victims and can help you build the strongest case possible. We are committed to collecting the required pieces of evidence for your case and will be proactive to preserve whatever we can from the accident.
Using Phone Records to Prove Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from operating the truck. It can be talking to passengers, texting or talking on the phone, adjusting the navigation system or stereo, eating, or drinking.
Texting is the most alarming distraction; using a phone takes the eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. At 55 mph, that is driving the length of a football pitch with your eyes closed. In 2020 alone, accidents involving distracted driving claimed about 3,142 lives.
However, filing a case against a distracted truck driver can be complicated, particularly when you require phone records from the accountable motorist. It is possible to require records through a subpoena, but your personal injury lawyer should first bring a lawsuit.
Your knowledgeable attorney can prove the following to verify smartphone use caused your truck accident:
- Time of the truck accident
- Cell phone activity window (the records can show durations and times of outgoing and incoming calls, text messages' timestamps, and data communications with satellites used in GPS features)
By showing the relationship between the time of your crash and the text message or call, your legal counsel can claim that the distracted truck driver caused your accident.
While social media platforms, web browsing, encrypted instant messaging apps, and email messaging do not register in the phone logs, most activities leave an electronic trail. For instance, if the driver posted on Facebook or sent an email at the time of the accident, the activity will be logged and timestamped.
Sometimes your seasoned personal injury lawyer can hire a professional to investigate the truck motorist's metadata or electronic trail regarding your crash.
While commercial trucking is a lucrative venture, motorists often work grueling to boost profit. Typically, truckers overwork and stay on the road longer than the legal hours of service assigned for the long and short-haul. It is no surprise then that fatigue and human error are the underlying causes of most big rig collisions.
Investigating adherence to federal hours-of-service standards and safety regulations is essential in determining liability in truck accident claims. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all commercial truckers to maintain a logbook that includes the following daily details:
- The number of hours worked — The FMCSA allows motorists to work for seventy hours over eight days. After that, the driver should rest for at least 34 hours.
- Driving hours — A trucker should drive eleven consecutive hours during a fourteen-hour duration. Nevertheless, driving is illegal if eight hours have elapsed since the motorist's last thirty-minute rest break.
- Off duty time (days or hours the trucker has been relieved of work duties, including operating the vehicle)
- Number of hours covered in 24 hours
- A daily vehicle inspection report with the vehicle inspection's date, the truck's identifying number, and whether a defect or malfunction was identified and rectified.
Your lawyer should also analyze the electronic logging device installed in the truck. The ELD is connected directly to the vehicle's engine, and it tracks the duration the truck has been in motion.
Regrettably, falsifying log books is common. Truckers who refuse to take compulsory rest breaks or work outside the lawfully permitted hours can modify logs to avoid penalties. Your lawyer should conduct thorough investigations, scrutinize records, and search for red flags that the driver has altered the logbook. On top of electronic and paper logs, the lawyer will analyze the following pieces of evidence:
- Driver alcohol and drug screening
- Gas receipts and fuel logs
- Dispatcher communication records
- GPS information
- Maintenance history record
- Witness accounts
- Weigh station bills
- Phone records
Importance of Trucking Maintenance Records
State and federal laws require commercial trucking companies to maintain, inspect, and repair their fleet of vehicles and keep records of these activities. Failure to maintain the truck can lead to severe consequences. After the collision, your lawyer can request maintenance records from the trucking firm to check whether it adheres to federal rules and regulations.
The records can explain any issues with essential components in the motor vehicle like the brakes, tires, or engine. Additionally, the record can assist in establishing responsibility in the claim, whether it is towards the truck's inspection facility, the manufacturer of any spare part, or the trucking company.
While you could know of the black box on a plane that stores data and can determine what caused an airplane crash, you could not know that most trucks are equipped with the same data recorders. The black box can provide information about what occurred in the moments leading up to the accident, including:
- Did the motorist step on the brakes?
- The truck's speed
- Was the driver engaged in any hazardous conduct like swerving that could indicate distraction or drowsiness?
- GPS coordinates for the truck's recent stops that can offer information about how fast the vehicle was moving
While the black box proof cannot provide vivid details about what caused your accident, it can give more information about what could have contributed to your collision.
Violation of Traffic Law as Evidence in Your Truck Accident
Nevada, like all states, has traffic laws that set forth the duties and obligations imposed on drivers. Traffic laws aim to lower accidents and make roads safe for all passengers, bikers, and drivers. Unfortunately, most people fail to comply with the laws, resulting in accidents.
In a truck accident lawsuit, the duty owed is the duty to act with the caution a reasonable individual in similar circumstances would exercise. If the defendant received a citation for breaking the law, you could use the traffic law the defendant violated to prove negligence.
Since the responsible truck driver will not admit blame, individual statements cannot be adequate to swing a personal injury claim in your favor. Video camera footage showing what took place and with timestamps is more convincing. Unlike people, video cameras do not make mistakes in judgment. They show what took place as it occurred.
Even when you did not catch your accident on video, another person could have. Your lawyer can visit your accident scene and use the following footage to learn what occurred:
- Red or traffic light cameras
- Dashboard cameras
- Surveillance camera
- Bystander's cell phones
- Home or doorbell security cameras
- Police body cams
- In-cab recordings in the commercial vehicle
Cameras that record 24/7, especially if they are not connected to a server that stores data, can automatically delete old footage. While businesses are likely to keep recordings for a couple of months, traffic cameras can overwrite footage in a day. Consequently, it is paramount to act fast.
You will not know that your accident's footage exists if you fail to investigate the truck accident. That is why you should hire a lawyer who can check prospective sources of video proof like:
- Nearby businesses that could have recorded the crash
- Social media pages that mention your truck accident
- Witnesses who recorded your accident
- Police in patrol
Additionally, your lawyer will know:
- Locations likely to have video cameras
- How to preserve the video footage without alteration
- The organizations that own recording cameras
- The right channels to use to obtain the video
When an accident occurs, all involved parties will try to prove their innocence. An eyewitness can be a valuable source of information and evidence in your truck accident claim. It is especially true if the witness is credible.
Credibility is challenging to establish and easy for the defense to discredit. Bearing that in mind, here are the characteristics of a credible eyewitness:
- They are neither related to you nor the defendant
- They have no interest in your claim
- They saw the collision
- They do not have any disability that can affect what they saw
- They were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol during your accident
Any eye witness can be any person present at the collision and who observed what occurred before, after, and during the accident. It can be:
- Other motorists
- People in nearby homes
- Individuals who stopped to assist
- Passengers in other motor vehicles
- People in nearby businesses
After the truck accident, your priority is safety and seeking medical care. The next step is collecting information about your accident, including eyewitness testimonies. You can gather this evidence after the accident or revisit the scene later.
At the Accident Scene
While at your accident scene, talk to anyone who witnessed what took place during and before your collision. Ensure you collect the following information:
- Their name, address, and contact details
- Information about what they saw (you can enquire whether you can record the individual as they are giving a narration of events)
It is wise that you talk to witnesses promptly. Most witnesses are in transit and will not be at the accident scene later, making it challenging to locate them and obtain a statement in the future.
Also, human memory fades with time, damaging the eyewitness testimony's credibility.
Returning to Your Accident Scene
Sometimes obtaining eyewitness statements at the accident scene later is impossible. Probably you are too injured, or it is dangerous to get out of your car and survey the scene.
Nevertheless, your committed personal injury lawyer can revisit the scene later and speak with the individual in nearby homes or businesses who witnessed your truck accident.
Taking photos of the accident scene is an effective way to preserve the proof. The photographs will be instrumental when dealing with the insurance adjuster investigating your personal injury claim. They can help give a vivid image of the accident's location, weather and road conditions during the accident, debris, and the vehicles' position. Additionally, the pictures can assist refresh your memory down the road during settlement negotiations or at trial.
When you wonder what images to capture, it will not be apparent which accident details will become crucial later on. Therefore, the more photos you capture, the better. Two identical photos can reveal different information about the same accident scene. If your device or camera has limited storage capacity, ensure you choose your pictures wisely.
Ensure you take photos of:
- Your motor vehicle and the property damage caused
- Other motor vehicles involved in your accident and their damage
- Skid marks
- Debris, shattered glass, and vehicle parts lying on the road
- The collision site like the parking lot or intersection
- Condition and location of traffic signals and stop signs
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Visible bodily injuries
Since your aim is preserving evidence, any device that can capture photos is beneficial. A disposable camera is a great option. Smartphone cameras have become increasingly sophisticated and often come with a flash. Whatever device you use, ensure it can date/time stamp pictures. An image's date and time stamps on an image can assist the insurance adjuster in verifying that you took the photo at a specific accident.
Ensure you leave your accident details undisturbed. Nevertheless, move closer to the accident details and take photos of them. Most cameras have a zoom function that you can use to take close-up shots without risking another car-related accident. Also, try to take photographs from more than three different distances and angles.
If you can, do not wait to capture photos. Generally, victims leave the accident scene as soon as they can. Also, accident scenes change quickly. If you return later, conditions like road, broken glass, skid marks, and lighting will not be the same.
If you are too injured, your health and life should be your priority. Have a person you trust capture the accident scene photos.
Expert Witness Testimony
While an expert witness did not witness your accident, they have specialized training, knowledge, expertise, and education about your truck accident's details that can support the claim. They explain difficult and technical concepts so the jury can make informed decisions in the personal injury claim. Your lawyer can also engage an expert witness to offer insight into your injuries' nature, how the truck accident happened, or prove the need for specific damages.
Some of the expert witnesses the lawyer can consult with include:
- Medical practitioners — Your bodily injuries form your claim's foundation. Medical experts can offer details on the level of the injuries and how they will/can impact your life.
- Accident reconstructionist — Sometimes, it is challenging to establish fault. The expert can tell how fast the truck was moving, areas where the driver's vision was impaired, and traffic signs. An accident reconstructionist will use drawings, physical replicas of your truck accident, and digital models to determine the at-fault party and how the collision happened.
- A life care planner — Severe injuries require ongoing medical attention. The professional can determine how your crash's financial and physical impact will affect your life or during the recovery period, establishing your eligible damages.
- A mental health specialist — An accident can also affect your psychological and mental health. A mental health specialist can clarify how psychological illness or trauma can affect the quality of life, proving your entitlement to pain and suffering damages.
- Economic expert — Generally, an economic expert calculates the value of things damaged/lost in the collision. Factors like property damage or lost wages are straightforward. The economist will also identify more subtle losses like lost job opportunities and promotions. The economic expert's analysis can factor in rising medical expenses and inflation.
Your personal injury lawyer's expert witnesses depend on your case needs and circumstances. For instance, if you are involved in an accident involving multi-vehicles where the fault is disputed, your attorney will hire an accident reconstructionist to examine and identify the responsible parties.
Proving Lost Income and Lost Earning Capacity
To receive lost income damages in your truck collision injury claim, you should prove that your missed time from work was due to the injuries sustained. It is more than presenting pay stubs and noting the dates you were away from work. The insurance adjuster will be looking for substantial proof that your injuries caused your inability to work.
Basic pieces of evidence you can file for lost wages compensation include:
- Medical evaluation
- Your employer's statement
- Your wage reports
If you are self-employed, you can submit evidence of the income you would have earned if the accident did not occur. You can use invoices from the same period during the previous year.
Proving your lost earning capacity can be tricky. Depending on the type of work and severity and type of your injury, the insurance adjuster can assume that you will have a reduced earning capacity. The most challenging part is establishing how much compensation you should receive. While comparing your paychecks before and following your injuries is the simplest method to establish the degree of lost earning capacity, it is not always that seamless.
Typically, your lawyer can use an economic expert witness to determine what you would have made were it not for the injuries. The economist will factor in the following evidence:
- Work habits and character traits
- Intention to change careers
- Education level
If your truck accident is severe, you should call the police to the accident scene to interview the involved parties and assess the damage. The responding police officer will draft a report summarizing what occurred. The paperwork can be vital evidence in a claim against the defendant for injuries sustained and property damage.
Some of the information included in a police report include:
- The accident's basics like the place, time, and date when your truck accident occurred
- Contact details of involved parties, witnesses, and insurance providers
- The involved parties' statements
- Property damage
- Physical injuries
- A narrative of the events
- Pictures and diagrams
- Road and weather conditions at the accident scene
A police report can corroborate specific case details, increasing your case's strength and ability to obtain a favorable case outcome.
Medical proof is the basic foundation that makes your personal injury case robust. Generally, medical experts refer to medical records during trials. The jury can also use these records when determining whether your injury was severe or minor. On top of that, they assess and document the nature of your injuries and their seriousness. They can document the treatment administered and the progress of your recovery. Finally, they are about pain and suffering, how the accident has affected your life, and any permanent or ongoing health condition sustained.
Medical reports can be either:
- Account statements
- Billing records
- Your physician's chart notes
- Test reports
- Medical records
- Office appointment histories
Obtaining Your Medical Records
If you have decided to file a personal injury claim, your lawyer will require you to authorize the release of your medical records.
Typically, the request will include your name, birthday, patient account number, social security number, and address. It can also request specific records or records during a particular date range.
Your lawyer can request your records if you give written consent that is dated and signed. The legal counsel can send the request via an online portal, fax, or mail. If you make a fax or mail request, it is wise to call your physician to confirm receipt. Most medical providers charge fees before releasing records.
Find a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
In Nevada, personal injury claims involving trucks are won and lost based on the proof presented. The trucking company will be committed to protecting its interest, and you require solid evidence to receive fair and reasonable compensation. That is why you need experienced legal representation immediately after your accident. At Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we can gather your medical records, review your previous medical records for issues the defendant will try to claim the accident did not cause your injuries, engage expert witnesses, determine lost income, and prepare presentations that show changes in quality of your life. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, please call us at 702-576-0010 to book an appointment and learn how we can help you.