Categories of Documentary Evidence Relevant to All Truck Accident Lawsuits and Claims
Whenever the insurers for the negligent parties in a truck accident personal injury claim fail to fairly resolve the claim for an appropriate amount of compensation, it may become necessary to file suit and proceed into litigation. After the defendants have been served with the truck accident lawsuits, the next stage of litigation is “discovery,” in which the parties exchange formal requests for exchange of evidence — written questions and answers called “interrogatories,” requests for production of documents, subpoenas to third parties for relevant testimony and evidence, etc.
Truck accident lawsuits typically have a complicated set of standard “discovery” requests that make this type of litigation unique in this regard, and it’s important to properly and methodically run through these discovery requests for truck accident lawsuits in order to achieve a successful resolution of the personal injury client’s claim. Especially important is the discovery of documentary evidence that can help establish direct liability of defendants other than the truck driver. An experience personal injury attorney will be able to provide this important service to clients in truck accident lawsuits.
Types of Important Document Discovery in Truck Accident Lawsuits
Some truck accidents may result from design or manufacturing defects in the tractor, trailer, or other specific mechanical system in the truck — in this type of situation it’s obviously important to seek relevant documents from the parties who designed, manufactured, assembled, and sold the vehicle and its components to the trucking company owner. Very often, however, even those accidents arising from mechanical defects are more likely due to negligence on the part of the vehicle owner in properly inspecting and maintaining the truck, in which case the relevant documents (or lack of them) are with the trucking company. Most frequently, truck accidents — like all motor vehicle accidents — result from driver negligence, and the important evidence to be discovered is again in the possession of the trucking company employing the driver.
Among the specific topics for which documentary evidence is frequently sought in truck accident lawsuits are:
- Driver’s personnel records.
- Driver’s hiring, training, and qualification records.
- Driver’s daily logs for the week before the collision and the week after the collision.
- Driver’s daily inspection reports.
- Driver’s drug and alcohol test results after collision.
- Driver’s cell phone and texting records.
- Vehicle’s maintenance records, inspection reports, and confirmation of repairs for problems flagged upon inspection.
- Vehicle’s ownership records from manufacture through the current owner.
- Vehicle’s operating manuals as supplied by manufacturer.
- Vehicle’s on-board recording device data, printouts, etc.
- Company’s hiring, training, and qualification procedure documents.
- Company’s policy and procedure manuals.
- Company’s internal investigative and disciplinary procedures.
- Trip records at the time of accident, including bills of lading, any records of load inspection, lodging and meal receipts, etc.
Although this list may seem long and comprehensive, it’s just the starting point basics for document discovery in truck accident lawsuits. Once these documents are acquired and thoroughly reviewed, any problematic details that are found will form the basis for ongoing efforts via deposition testimony, expert witness review and testimony, and/or further document requests to determine whether and how the problems found contributed to causing truck accident and resulting injuries.
Relevance and Importance of Documentary Evidence for Successfully Resolving Truck Accident Lawsuits
Most, but certainly not all, traffic accidents in general and truck accidents in particular are caused by relatively obvious problems — a driver was driving too fast or otherwise operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner, failed to stop in time, didn’t observe a stop sign or red light, didn’t account for bad weather conditions, etc., or a problem with the vehicle like a blown tire may have triggered the collision. In trucking accidents, however, as in all traffic collisions where the negligent driver was employed by someone else, it’s important to thoroughly explore the relationship between the driver-employee and the truck company-employer to determine what, if any, direct liability there may be on the employer’s part for failing to properly evaluate and hire, train, manage, supervise, etc. the driver-employee, especially if there are problems in that driver’s history with the company or with prior employers.
Likewise, in commercial truck wreck lawsuits there is also a three-way relationship between driver, truck company, and the truck itself. The driver is responsible for inspecting the truck at the beginning and end of each workday and reporting any observed problems to the truck company. The truck company is responsible for proper regular maintenance of the vehicle, as well as repairing any specific problems reported by the driver. And modern trucks themselves will typically have on-board data recorders tracking the driver’s hours of service on the vehicle, the vehicle’s location and speed, and other physical driving factors. All the documents related to this three-way relationship may include valuable information as to the vehicle’s condition and the driver’s status at the time of an accident.
Each of these categories of documentary evidence are important to establishing the potential liability of all parties — driver, employer, vehicle maintenance company, truck manufacturer, shipping companies, loading companies, etc. — in order to maximize the likelihood of a successful outcome for personal injury victims who are an attorney’s clients in truck accident lawsuits.
View this news report from CNBC describing fragmentation in the trucking industry — a factor that only makes it more complicated to figure out “who’s who” in truck accident lawsuits:
California Truck Accident Attorneys
Hello, my name’s Ed Smith, and I’m a California truck accident attorney. Establishing the liability of all potential defendants in truck accident lawsuits is key to achieving good results for personal injury victims, and a personal injury attorney with the skills, experience, and resources to do this can be of significant benefit to clients. Crucial to this process is the discovery and thorough review of the many, many types of documentary evidence that describe the relationships and actions toward each other of all the defendants who may be involved in causing a truck accident, of whom the driver and truck company are only the most obvious. If you or a family member has suffered a serious injury due to negligence of a truck driver, please contact us today at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
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