Cleveland Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer
Cleveland Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer Discusses Special Evidentiary Issues in Trucking Accident Lawsuits
While any motor vehicle accident can cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities, tractor-trailer collisions pose a particularly acute risk to vehicle occupants. A fully loaded 18-wheeler weighs as much as 80,000 pounds, which can exceed the weight of a compact car by more than 25 times. The disparity in weight between a passenger car and big-rig means that the force of impact exacts incredible force on the passenger car.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that large trucks account for only four percent of registered vehicles, yet tractor-trailers are involved in more fatal crashes than passenger cars. Further, the IIHS reports that 98 percent of fatalities in trucking accidents result in the death of an occupant of the other vehicle. While you might have a right to financial compensation if you are injured or you lose a loved one in a trucking accident, legal claims arising out of trucking collisions present special challenges. One of the most important reasons you need an experienced trucking attorney is to deal with the special evidentiary issues in trucking cases.
Preservation of Evidence in Ohio Trucking Accident Claims
Trucking companies have special investigative teams that respond rapidly to the scene of a trucking accident. If you fail to seek legal advice from an experienced Cleveland tractor-trailer lawyer, evidence of liability can conveniently vanish or be manipulated. When vehicle damage to the body of the cab or trailer of a semi-truck is repaired, an accident reconstruction expert can be hindered in his or her ability to determine the cause of the crash and/or injuries to vehicle occupants.
If the vehicle is put back in service after such repairs, data stored on the event data recorder (EDR) in the vehicle might be erased. An EDR is basically like the “black box” used to determine the cause of a commercial airline crash. When a trucking accident occurs, the black box might provide a range of critical information, such as speed immediately prior to the crash, sudden braking, vehicle locations, hours of service, mechanical issues and other information that can establish the cause of a tractor-trailer collision.
As an experienced Ohio trucking accident lawyer, Joel A. Nash works promptly to prevent the loss of this type of evidence. When Mr. Nash is retained to handle a trucking case, he typically sends a “spoliation letter” to the trucking company, indicating that the truck and the black box are the subject of litigation and must not be altered or destroyed. If the commercial carrier disregards this notice, the court can impose harsh sanctions on a trucking company that destroys or alters evidence. These penalties can include monetary sanctions and sanctions that damage the trucking company’s ability to prevail in the litigation.
While driver logbooks provide another valuable form of evidence regarding driver fatigue and big-rig maintenance issues, these logbooks are so routinely distorted that they are derisively referred to as “lie books” in the trucking industry. When we handle a trucking accident case we cross-reference logbook information with black box data and other documents, such as fuel receipts, tire invoices, lodging bills and other documents. Careful scrutiny of these other types of evidence can expose attempts by truck drivers and commercial carriers to hide violations of hour of service rules, which are designed to prevent truck crashes involving fatigued truck drivers.
If you or a family member has been involved in a trucking accident in Cleveland or the surrounding areas of Ohio, Joel A. Nash over 20 years of legal experience. We offer a free consultation, so we can explain your rights and answer your questions, so call us at (216) 691-3000 or email us.