Driving through Montana is a beautiful experience, but sharing the highways with large trucks is often dangerous, and we have our fair share of truck accidents. When a truck accident occurs, it can cause enormous damage, especially if the accident involves consumer drivers, and may leave victims with destroyed vehicles and serious or even fatal injuries.
If you experience a truck accident, your safety should be your first concern. Even if you cannot feel any injuries, it is still important to get professional medical help as soon as you can. A proper medical examination can help identify injuries you can’t feel and keep them from getting worse, possibly avoiding serious long-term harm.
Once you receive the medical care that you need, you may need to begin building a personal injury claim, especially if you have serious injuries. Like all traffic accidents, it is wise to gather evidence at the scene of the crime or ask someone to help you by gathering evidence for you if you are hurt. The sooner you do, the better.
Evidence to gather at the scene
The more evidence that you gather, the more material you have to build your claim and make a strong case as to which party is liable for your losses. In most cases, the simplest way to document the scene of the accident is with a smartphone.
You can take pictures and video of the scene, and even get written or recorded statements from witnesses and others involved in the accident. It is even possible to get a statement from the driver of the truck, but be careful when you speak them or any other victim of the accident. You don’t want to say anything that they might interpret as accepting liability for the accident, including apologizing to them. While this may seem rude, it is simply too dangerous from a legal standpoint.
You can also look for footage of the accident from security cameras on nearby homes or businesses. Make sure to ask the owner for this footage as soon as possible, because most security systems do not store footage for very long.
Special evidence to request
You should also request two specific kinds of evidence that only the truck driver or owner can give you. Each truck should contain both the driver’s logs and the electronic control module data.
A driver’s logs detail how often the driver stops to rest and how long they stay behind the wheel. If your accident occurred because the driver got sleepy, the logs may shed light on this. If you request these logs, the driver must typically give them to you or at least allow you to see them.
Electronic control modules are devices that record data about the functions of the truck and some of the drivers’ habits behind the wheel, such as the top average speed of the vehicle or the driver’s seat belt usage.
However, it is important to understand that this data may disappear if you don’t formally request it immediately. The data belongs to the owner of the truck (which may or may not be the driver), and until the owner receives a formal request to release the data, they have the legal right to delete it.
Gathering this evidence gives you many of the tools you need to build strong claim and keep your rights and priorities protected while you recover.