There are a significant number of large truck collisions and crashes that occur in the Bessemer area each year. Due to its central location on Interstate 20-59 and close proximity to Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, there is a heavy volume of large truck traffic that travels through Bessemer every day. Accidents involving large trucks and automobiles often result in serious personal injuries or death. Large trucks are the most powerful vehicles on the road and their heavy loads coupled with speed create conditions for a catastrophic collision.
A thorough and detailed investigation of large truck accidents is the most important element in successfully handling these types of cases. Every investigation should include certain tasks that are imperative in order to properly evaluate the case. The attorney handling the case should immediately send a certified letter to the motor carrier and driver requesting that all evidence related to the wreck be preserved for review by the attorney’s office or experts. Next, the attorney should serve a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Request on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that requests a copy of the FMCSA file regarding the motor carrier.
In the mid-1990s, large truck engine manufacturers began recording data in the electronic control module (ECM) of engines. The data recorded by the ECM is imperative. Although the data recorded varies, important information such as vehicle speed, engine RPMs, throttle positions, clutch positions, odometer readings, times and dates, cruise control settings, and brake pedal positions are often recorded by the ECM. An aggressive brake application triggers recording of the information. The information may be downloaded from the ECM and used as evidence in the case.
In every case, the attorney should diligently seek production of records required to be maintained by the truck driver, including registration documents, Bills of Lading, Log Books, medical certificate, written test certificate, trip records, CDL and Road Test Certificate. Trip documents and expenses such as Toll Tickets, receipts for fuel, food, lodging and other items should be obtained as well. A complete record of compensation between the driver and company or freight owner should be obtained to demonstrate the method of payment. Additional items related to the driver include copies of all licenses issued by each state, MVRs from every state where driver has driven for the past five years, and list of driver violations.
The attorney should also obtain all available information regarding the truck and trailer involved in the wreck, including purchase or lease information, owner or lessee information, maintenance records and reports, repair orders, equipment specifications and equipment lists.
The investigation methods contained herein is certainly not an exhaustive list. Depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, there is a wealth of additional fact information and evidence that should be pursued as part of the investigation.
The attorneys at Cross & Smith have handled cases in the Bessemer area for over 20 years. The firm’s senior attorney, Dell Cross, lives in the Bessemer Cutoff. Dell and attorney Justin Smith have written materials and spoken at seminars for lawyers in Alabama regarding handling large truck cases.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a truck or 18 wheeler accident or wreck, contact the Bessemer truck and 18 wheeler accident attorneys at Cross & Smith. Our firm represents individuals that have been seriously injured or killed as the result of a trucking or 18 wheeler wreck.
"I have been friends with Dell Cross since we were roommates at UA Law and have had the pleasure of conferring with Cross & Smith, LLC in a professional capacity for many years. As a law office which specializes in domestic relations and family law matters, it is imperative that my office maintain a consistent client referral relationship with a law firm which can effectively address personal injury matters brought to us by our clients."
Mark Sterling Gober