Any accident involving a semi-truck has the potential to end in catastrophe. Survivors often feel fortunate to have simply escaped with their lives intact, but they may still face an uphill road to recovery: the insurance company might refuse to negotiate in good faith, and the trucking company could intentionally destroy relevant records. Critical evidence can disappear seemingly overnight, leaving victims without the means to regain their physical health and reclaim their financial independence.
You do not know all of the tactics designed to strip you of your rights to fair compensation. However, both in insurance negotiations and in court, your rights to compensation could be contingent on the availability of high-quality evidence.
Semi-Truck Accidents Are Often Complex
Semi-truck accidents are, in a great many ways, different from ordinary collisions involving private passenger vehicles.
The interstate logistics industry, for instance, is regulated at the local, state, and federal levels. While truck drivers have a clear-cut obligation to abide by the rules of the road, their employers must also take steps to ensure that their over-the-road drivers are qualified and that their vehicles are safe for everyday use. If a trucking company enacts or overlooks negligent practices, it could—indirectly—cause or contribute to an accident.
So, even if the truck driver’s negligence clearly caused a collision, they may not be the only party liable for the accident.
Depending on the circumstances of your claim, the defendants could include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- A cargo shipper
- An automotive parts maker
- An automobile manufacturer
Since semi-truck accidents often result in life-altering injuries, they can cost logistics companies—and their insurance carriers—significant amounts of money. When the trucking company receives notice of an accident, it might try to limit its liability by proactively destroying any evidence indicative of fault, including driver logbooks, personnel files, and vehicle maintenance records.
How You Can Protect Evidence After an Omaha-Area Truck Accident
Any irregularities in a trucking company’s records could be indicative of negligence. Trucking companies know this and may seek to undermine accident-related claims by destroying relevant records they are no longer obligated to keep.
However, logistics companies can be compelled to preserve their records. If you hire an experienced Nebraska semi-truck accident attorney, your lawyer could draft an official evidence preservation letter, often referred to as a “spoliation letter.”
A spoliation letter will direct the at-fault company to refrain from removing, altering, or destroying evidence that could include, but is not limited to:
- Office paperwork, such as inspection reports, repair records, and maintenance logs.
- Electronic records, including dash-camera footage, GPS information, and vehicle “black box” data.
- Phone records, which could include intraoffice communication as well as the truck driver’s call logs and text message history.
- Freight tenders and loading certificates detailing when, where, and how the semi-truck’s cargo was loaded.
A properly drafted spoliation letter could prevent the trucking company from destroying the same evidence needed to establish fault in insurance negotiations or in a jury trial.
However, spoliation letters must be sent quickly—sometimes immediately after an accident is reported. Without the evidence obtainable through a spoliation letter, even the most experienced lawyer may not be able to secure a fair settlement.
Assessing Your Damages After a Nebraska 18-Wheeler Collision
Once your Omaha-area semi-truck accident attorney can access and analyze the evidence needed to win your case, they could help you assess your damages. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, these damages could include the following types of compensation:
- Past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Paid co-pays and deductibles
- Reconstructive surgery
- Lost income from work
- Diminished earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Wrongful death
Nebraska does not currently cap the damages available in most personal injury cases. However, your rights to a fair recovery could be jeopardized if you fail to take fast action—the trucking company could destroy evidence, or the state statute of limitations could lapse.