Modern Day Trucking Litigation: Exposing Both the Physical and Corporate Cause of the Catastrophic Wreck

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Part 4:

Gather Evidence from Truck- It is critical to gather the following data from the truck as soon as possible; drivers logs, bills of lading, fuel receipts, toll receipts, weigh station ticket, fuel gage information, and personal belongings within the cab.

If you have ever litigated a case of this nature, you know that this information is some of the most valuable information that can be obtained from the Defendant Transportation Carrier. This is why many defense attorneys and agents working for either the transportation company or liability carrier will personally remove such information from the cabs of the involved tractor trailers. This information can also be the subject of some of the most intense discovery battles. Often, transportation companies will take the position that they are not longer in possession of many of these items. Remember, federal regulations often require the transportation company to maintain certain records for a designated period of time. Additionally, the notice of a claim may place the transportation company in the position where they must retain the documents until the claim is resolved.

This information is so vital because it often sheds light on whether the truck driver is honest and can also be used to invalidate the information indicated on the driver’s daily logs. Additionally, a thorough review of the information can be used to establish trends that are detrimental to the trucking company. As you know, speeding is the number one contributing cause to most incidents involving tractor trailers. Additionally, it is not uncommon for the respective driver’s abstract to reflect more than one speeding violation, especially today when trucking firms are literally relaxing their hiring standards to accommodate the nearly 300,000 driver shortage experienced by the industry. Many times, the above mentioned documents can be used to establish daily incidents of speeding on the part of the respective driver, knowledge of such fact on the part of driver’s employer and an unwillingness of the employer to take corrective action to change the behavior of the driver.

For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act requires the trucking company to maintain driver’s logs for a period of 180 days. Most over-the-road tractor semi-trailers should average between 45-50 miles per hour when you take the total numbers of miles driven, as indicated on the driver’s logs, and dividing by the total number of driving hours. If you do the simple above-mentioned analysis, you will probably see that on average the driver in your particular case drives in excess of the average speed by 15+ miles per hour.

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