Conducting truck accident investigations
It is essential for your lawyer to find out everything possible about the truck, truck driver, trucking company, and accident so that you can increase what your lawsuit is worth. From start to finish, Mike Rafi will go everywhere, talk to everyone, and learn everything to win your truck accident case.
How truck crash investigations work
Mike Rafi’s goal in post-accident scene investigations is to get every detail about how the accident occurred, so that he can understand what happened and determine who was responsible for the crash. Like a police investigation, witness statements and physical evidence are extremely important. Mike tracks down witnesses and speaks to them as soon as possible, so they don’t forget important details about the crash. Mike will learn from witnesses what they saw and heard before, during, and after the crash.
Physical evidence can include damage to vehicles, vehicle parts left on the road, surface, lighting, and visibility conditions, fluid trails, and skid marks. Obtaining reliable physical evidence is important so that an accident reconstructionist can evaluate the data and determine speed, braking distance, force of impact, and other factors that caused the accident.
The commercial vehicle is another piece of physical evidence that will give clues about what happened during the crash. After a wreck, a vehicle inspector should perform a complete test of the truck’s braking system, including the valve, gauges, pressure supply, and other internal parts. Tires should be inspected too, including the tread, pressure, hub, wheel assembly, studs, and lug nuts. Poor truck or tire maintenance could be valuable evidence for holding the company and driver liable. Similarly, a defective tire could mean that the tire manufacture may be responsible for your injuries.
Most newer trucks have a data recorder, often called a “black box.” The black box saves details of what happened before, during, and after the collision—details like speed, brake pressure, and steering wheel angle. It is imperative that you hire an attorney after a truck wreck so your attorney can make sure the black box data is saved, downloaded, and then evaluated by an expert. The black box data often provides crucial information to show the truck driver was speeding or distracted or the truck was not properly maintained.
Every trucking company must have a driver qualification file for each driver they employ. Companies are obligated to obtain the necessary documents and information to create this file, and they must also keep the file.
The file must include:
- Records showing every time the driver was involved in a collision
- Records showing every time the truck was involved in a collision
- Driver’s employment history
- Driver’s on-road test results
- Driver’s drug and alcohol test results
- Driver’s training records
- Driver’s licenses
- Driver’s annual reviews
- Driver’s medical certifications
- Driver’s applications
- Driver’s personnel file
- Records showing when the truck driver was on-duty and driving
The driver qualification file allows your attorney to learn about the company, whether they collected the right information and followed the rules by saving it, and about the driver because the information the company should collect and save provides many important details about the driver and his qualifications.
Most times, within a few short hours, the trucking company’s insurance company will have investigators at the scene. Trucking companies and their insurers know that speaking to witnesses as soon as possible could be the difference between winning or losing the case.
Interviewing witnesses, police officers, first responders, and others who may have information about the crash seems like common-sense, but many lawyers are simply unwilling to spend the time, energy, and resources to locate witnesses and speak with them. Lawyers cannot win cases from behind their desk. Mike Rafi has traveled far and wide to personally find witnesses, build relationships with them, and encourage them to tell what they know to help his clients.
After speaking to witnesses, Mike will ask witnesses to testify at depositions. Depositions are similar to testifying in court—witnesses are under oath, and if done correctly, the jury can later hear the witnesses’ testimony. Trucking companies are known for trying to delay cases so witnesses’ memories fade and injured people and their families don’t get a fair day in court. Mike guards against this stall-tactic by taking depositions as soon as possible, so the crash will be fresh on witnesses’ minds.
Mike is highly skilled at taking depositions. In one of his cases, Roto-Rooter, a national plumbing and sewage company, allowed one of its employees to drive a company vehicle for a week, even though the vehicles gas gauge was broken. Unsurprisingly, the employee ran out of gas on a major road late at night, and Mike’s client crashed into the vehicle. Roto-Rooter claimed it did not violate any of its policies in allowing its vehicle on the road. Mike flew to Cincinnati to confront Roto-Rooter’s Safety Director with its own policies and show the vehicle should not have ever left the parking lot:
The only way that Mike was able to successfully confront the Safety Director above was because he asked the right questions, made sure they were fully answered, combed through the information, and then used it against the company. Shortly after this deposition, the case settled because the company knew they were in trouble. Contact Mike Rafi so he can begin investigating your case the right way.