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Using your cell phone to protect yourself at the truck accident scene

July 6, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

Last week I wrote about the importance of calling police at every car accident scene, even if your car damage is minimal and you’re pretty sure that sore neck is going to be fine and not a serious injury.  Today, here’s another tip involving cell phones.  This one involves truck accidents. Using your cell phone at the scene of a serious truck accident can make all the difference in your legal case.

Remember, any injury or accident causes stress.  And when the body is under stress from a pain response, it’s very easy to forget important information. Actually, when you are under stress, you technically don’t ever “forget” information, because you never really hear it and process it to begin with.

But here’s the thing: Many large trucking companies are now dispatching rapid response teams of lawyers and accident investigators to the scene of a catastrophic truck crash. These teams of lawyers, insurance adjusters and investigators sometimes arrive even before the police arrive at the truck accident scene.  And these teams are trained NOT to perform an independent analysis of how the crash occurred. They go out there for only one reason – to help the company avoid paying the full amount in compensation when a lawsuit is brought for all the harms and losses that a negligent trucker or trucking company has caused.

These teams work for the insurance company and the trucking company. And stories are legion of these teams trying to scare independent eyewitnesses away so they don’t talk to the police, and altering and removing critical road evidence that could prove fault.

In one of our most serious truck wreck cases, we caught an agent from the trucking company who had moved the gear shift of our client’s car from drive to neutral.  I’m familiar with another case where they even went so far as to remove aftermarket parts.

An experienced truck accident attorney can help protect you in case this happens. But comprehensive information from the moment the truck crash occurs is invaluable. Taking pictures with your cell phone can help document a lot of this important information. And if the team sees you taking pictures, they will be much less likely to take the risk of tampering with evidence.

If you are involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle or semi-truck, try to take pictures of the following things with your cell phone at the scene:

  • License plate and back end of the truck.
  • The driver’s door of the cab where trucking company information is usually posted.
  • The front end of the truck.
  • If you can, the inside cab of the truck.  As a truck lawyer for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen drugs and alcohol containers removed from the insides of these cabs, as well as the second set of log books (often referred to as the “lie books”).  These show the real hours of service, and the phony ones that the driver maintains if he has to produce them to the police after a fatality crash.
  • Any damage to your car and the truck.
  • The road conditions at the time of the accident.
  • Any tire marks or damage to the road itself where the accident occurred.
  • Any injuries you or other passengers might have.
  • The insurance information, license numbers and phone numbers and address of the driver involved.
  • If you can, take video of the truck accident scene.

For more information, take a look at our list of 7 steps to take after a truck crash in Michigan.

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