The most devastating crashes on the road resulting in the most serious types of injuries are tractor trailer crashes. Collisions between tractor-trailers, also known as semis and semi-trailer trucks, and regular two-door/four-door sedans result in some of the most catastrophic injuries. When a truck accident occurs, serious bodily injuries follow.
New safety features and mechanisms are constantly being developed to help prevent trucking collisions. However, all the new safety designs in the world can’t make up for poor decision-making out on the roads. And while accidents on the road are sometimes avoidable, the trucking industry as a whole is still responsible for many of the trucking accidents.
Many drivers involved in trucking accidents are injured as a result of a tractor trailer company expecting more from their drivers than they should. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, one out of nine traffic fatalities last year resulted from a collision involving a large truck or semi. On average, 380,000 large trucks are involved in crashes.
Getting evidence is extremely important. 911 recordings from police departments are only kept for a certain period of time, often as short as 90 days. If a request for the 911 records is not made to the police department in a timely fashion, the records can be lost. Similarly, “roadway evidence” such as skid marks – marks left on the roadway from a vehicle that has locked its breaks – and yaw marks – marks left on the roadway when a vehicle’s tires spin in a circular motion – are key pieces of evidence which get washed away within a few days after the crash. An accident reconstructionist can help with that process.
Also, operational documents that are maintained by the trucking company may disappear unless the company is instructed to hold onto the records. A spoliation letter from a trucking attorney telling the company to properly safeguard all reports and logs is needed to bolster the argument that the trucking company should have retained the records beyond the six months required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (see Part Two of this Article).
In addition to operational documents, the electronic control module (“ECM”) should be removed from the tractor and preserved. The ECM controls the systems on the tractor unit. It records data relating to the operation of the tractor. The information it records will include speeds, brake system operations and engine controls. This information can be downloaded by the manufacturer and may play an important role in determining what happened at the time of the crash.