Art of Discovery Crucial to Truck Accident Lawsuit Evidence
Discovery is the legal method of obtaining information after a lawsuit is filed. Discovery is obtained by subpoenas and other requests that are enforced by the court. Discovery is very important in obtaining information regarding the truck and the driver.
“With respect to the truck, maintenance records are essential,” states Jim Ronca, truck accident lawyer. “If a truck has poor tires, bad brakes, weak springs, or if the truck generally was not maintained properly, these factors may have contributed to a collision.”
With respect to the driver, discovery is important to learn about the driver’s background; how many trucking companies has he worked for; was he properly trained; did he have prior accidents; did he have prior speeding violations; and why did he leave his prior employment?
All these questions can be answered by looking at a driver’s CDL file or commercial driver’s license file, which, by regulation, must be kept for each driver.
That CDL file will also contain a medical examination and doctor’s certification that the driver is able to drive and has no medical condition which would affect his ability to drive. Discovery can be used to find out information about how a driver is assigned to his jobs and whether the dispatch was at such times (2 a.m., followed by 12 noon dispatch, followed by 11p.m. dispatch). What this means is the driver didn’t have a regular sleep pattern and, consequently, was fatigued at the wheel.
A trucking company is only required to keep the records of hours of service logs for six months. Discovery can help you obtain those logs before being destroyed. Additionally, the logs are supposed to be matched against receipts and other forms of information to determine whether the driver is keeping the logs accurately. Inaccurate logs indicate a driver who is not conscientious about driving rules and probably is not conscientious about driving within the speed limit or other factors.
“Improperly kept hours of service logs can alert a trucking company that one of their drivers is non-compliant and that they should take action to ensure that that driver understands the regulations and acts accordingly,” advises Pennsylvania truck attorney Jim Ronca, “A company who doesn’t react to this situation is a negligent company and should be held responsible for these issues.”