Getting into a car accident can be scary, but getting into an accident with a big truck can be downright terrifying. If you've recently been hit by a truck and suffered serious injuries or property damage, it's a good idea to get your legal wits about you. Knowing what you can do to strengthen your claim and identify legally liable parties in your accident may be the difference between getting the money you need and being left twisting in the wind.
Ask About The Black Box
In a normal car accident, your first actions should be to seek medical help if you are injured, contact your insurance company, and contact your lawyer. However, when it comes to accidents involving large trucks, you should also take one more vital step: you have to ask about the black box.
Though they don't often use an actual black box like an airplane uses, trucking companies almost always have monitoring systems installed on their trucks to log important information. These devices can usually tell you how fast the vehicle was moving before the accident, whether the driver engaged the brakes, and how long the vehicle had been driving beforehand. Some may even detect malfunctioning or damaged parts.
Unfortunately, these devices are regularly wiped by trucking companies so that new data can be recorded, which means the record of your accident may be lost if you don't ask for it to be saved. If you have a tape recorder, or if the police are still on the scene, you should do your best to make sure that your request for the preservation of the data is on the record.
Get The Report Results
Whenever a large truck is in an accident, it cannot be cleared from the road until it has been officially looked over by a government inspector. This inspector may tell you whether the accident was caused by mechanical failure or driver error while at the scene. However, you won't be able to get an official report automatically. In fact, it isn't even included in the local police report for the accident.
Instead, you'll have to contact one of several different government agencies based on the specific cause of the accident and request a report. Luckily, your lawyer can either do this for you or assist you throughout the process, which will minimize the chance that you won't be able to get a copy before your court date.
Decide Which Parties Are Responsible
Unlike typical auto accidents, which rarely have more than two responsible parties, trucking accidents can have many liable parties involved. For this reason, it's important that you and your lawyer sit down and discuss the details of your accident before deciding who you wish to sue for recompense. Depending on the specific causes of your accident outlined in the inspector's report and the black box information, any of the following parties might potentially be held liable:
- The truck driver
- The company that hired the driver
- Manufacturers of any failed vehicle or trailer parts
- Shippers of the truck's cargo if the accident was cased by an unbalanced load
- The company that leased the trailer or truck
If you go after the wrong person or business in court, you could wind up weakening your case against other parties. You might even also have to pay court costs for anyone you wrongfully sue, which makes it doubly important that you only seek damages from the right people.
Don't let the complexity of trucking accident law overwhelm you. With enough information and a good lawyer who specialized in accident cases, you can make sure that the court will award you the money you need to get back on your feet and resume your life as normal again.
For more information, contact an experienced lawyer, or visit http://www.lvaccident.com.