California attorneys know that the difference between winning and losing a case, based on a traffic accident with a commercial truck, depends mostly on providing adequate evidence to prove what caused the accident. In most civil cases, if it can be shown by either a preponderance of evidence that the truck driver is responsible for the traffic accident, then the commercial liability insurance of the truck company has to step up and pay for the damages (subject to policy limits).
This burden of proof is easier to achieve in a civil trial, than the evidence needed in a criminal trial, which normally must produce evidence that proves guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Technology is Important in Truck Accidents
When a commercial truck is involved in an accident, the company that owns and operates the truck needs to know what happened. Most commercial trucking company use technology extensively. The technology gives them lots of information. Competent legal counsel is aware of this fact and should request the information that the company has, using the legal methods of motions for discovery and production of documents.
Here are some examples of the technology that may be used and the information that attorneys may obtain to help provide substantial evidence for a case:
• Speed Restrictions – Many commercial trucks have a speed limit restriction so the truck is incapable of exceeding the maximum speed limit while in route. These are commonly called governors. The simplest form of this technology prevents the truck from going past an upper limit of speed. Retail rental operations make use of this as well. More advanced versions of this technology, record the speed and GPS location of the truck. This is useful information for attorneys to know, because if the maximum limit is set at 70 MPH and the truck is doing 50 MPH in a zone where the speed limit is only 35 MPH, the speed is still excessive.
• Location Restrictions – Commercial trucking companies need to know where the trucks they own are located at all times. Routes are organized for efficiency and the trucks are not permitted to deviate from the route, except for emergencies like sudden repairs.
• Time Restrictions – Operating a commercial truck is just like any other business. There are limits in the amount of time a driver is permitted to drive. These limits are per driver so it is important to know if there is more than one authorized driver operating the truck and who was driving when the accident occurred.
• Video Surveillance – Advanced use of technology for commercial trucking companies include video surveillance of the drivers when they are operating the vehicle. If a commercial company has this technology in place, the video recording of the state of the operator are critical to provide evidence for any legal case.
• Drowsy Protection – Extremely sophisticated commercial trucking operations have technology embedded in the vehicle that observes drowsy driving. An example of this is when the truck is swerving in the lane or when the truck operator’s hands are not fully engaged with the steering wheel. This technology is very advanced and not yet widely deployed, but its use should be considered.
For everyone’s benefit, it is important to have as much information about the potential cause of any accident, especially when it involves a commercial truck. If any of the technology described above was operational to provide more information about a particular accident, then it is the responsibility of legal counsel on both sides to request the logs and videos that exist.
Sometimes the technology used is rudimentary. Nevertheless, this is helpful. For example, when there is nothing more than a log of driver-reported positions that are simply called in and not double-checked by any GPS location system, this is still useful. If a driver self-reports progress on a trip that exceeds the maximum amount of time and distance that could be covered under legal limits, evidence for potential driver drowsiness exists. This is critical evidence in any case when the accident with the commercial truck occurred during the nighttime.
Excellent legal representation provided by competent attorneys in California are making more use of the records provided by the technology to provide evidence to support their client’s position in a case.