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18 Wheeler Accidents are the scariest of all. It’s a matter of simple physics.
There is an entire body of federal laws and regulations that come into play in 18 wheeler accidents. There are numerous regulations concerning the driver’s obligation to maintain his vehicle, his log books, and hours of service to protect against fatigue, among other things.
There are also various types of legal relationships among trucking companies, drivers, and the companies that hire them, that bear upon what parties, besides the driver, may be responsible. These relationships can be quite complex. We know, because we’ve been involved in many of these cases.
Time is often of the essence in investigating 18 wheeler accidents. It may be necessary to hire a qualified accident reconstruction expert to preserve the evidence at the scene in a serious case. We know who these experts are and have worked with many of them in trucking cases.
Time is also a very important element because most semi trucks and newer vehicles are now equipped with something called an “Electronic Control Module,” commonly referred to as a “black box.” These “black boxes” may capture very valuable and important information if a vehicle is involved in a serious accident, but require an expert in order to download this information as soon as possible while the vehicle is still available. We have utilized these experts to obtain this information and testify at trial.
In a serious case, a truck accident lawyer should also send a preservation of evidence letter to the trucking company, instructing that all important evidence pertaining to an accident must be preserved, including but not limited to the “black box,” driver’s logs, internal drug and alcohol testing, maintenance and inspection records, the driver’s qualification file, photographs, and so forth (the list is too long to include everything in this answer). Federal regulations do not require the trucking company to retain the driver’s logs after six (6) months from the date of receipt.
If a lawsuit becomes necessary, you will most likely need an attorney who is experienced in federal court, which is a separate court system from state court. This is because trucking companies are often from out-of-state and have the right to invoke federal court jurisdiction if a lawsuit is filed.
We have handled 18 wheeler accident cases involving all of these factors. These can be very, very serious cases, and it is important to hire highly qualified, experienced counsel if you have been involved in an 18-wheeler or truck accident case.
At Harville Law Offices, we have extensive experience in handling 18-wheeler and truck accident cases.