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Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro
Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro
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Early investigation is key to winning truck accident cases.

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Although I have always recommended clients hire a personal injury as soon as possible after an injury, the reasons for fast action are especially true in significant trucking wreck cases. The insurance company for the trucker will be out on the scene immediately collecting evidence and documenting whatever they can to assist their side of the case.

To level the playing field with the truckers’ insurance company the injured person needs to make sure to have an accident recontructionist and an investigator at the scene immediately. This should occur if at all possible before the scene is cleaned up and the vehicles are moved. The only way this is going to happen is to hire a personal injury lawyer immediately after a serious truck injury accident.

The complex list of evidence that has to be gotten immediately in a truck wreck case is lengthy. However it includes things like the log book of the truck driver, information about the vehicle, information about the roadway, information about the debris and other indications about the place of impact. In order to properly document all of this data, a trained expert has to be hired to do the analysis so that they can prove later exactly what was there to be seen at the site of the collision.

I have seen many cases in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC) where the evidence was not collected quickly enough. One side or the other was greatly disadvantaged by this lack of good evidence of the scene. Typically a lack of evidence hurts the injured party in proving the truck driver’s negligence. If the accident reconstructionist or expert doesn’t get to the scene until a month or some long time after the accident, then the finding of that expert may be excluded by the court or may be attacked as being without good foundation before the jury. If you or your family is involved in one of these serious trucking wreck cases, do not assume that the Virginia (VA) State Police or other investigating entity is going to properly document the facts. In one bad trucking case that I recently handled the Virginia (VA) State Police investigator failed to document any markings that would have shown where the collision occurred. This was the central fact, namely, whether the accident occurred in the shoulder or in the roadway. The trooper was investigating his very first big wreck. The scene was very complicated with lots of cleanup vehicles making marks before the Virginia (VA) State Police had documented exactly which marks came from the two trucks involved in the wreck. To top it all off, the photographs taken by the Virginia (VA) State trooper did not even come out. He was forced to borrow the photographs from the local fire and rescue department. Thus the police were not in a position to clarify what the physical evidence showed. Instead the case became a battle between experts hired by the various parties and their insurance companies to try to tilt the facts in a way favorable to them. In that particular case which happened on a rural highway in southern Virginia, I almost did not take the case because what the rookie state police and the adverse insurance company were claiming made it seem as though my client was clearly at fault. It turned out that there was no hard scientific evidence to show that was true. Ultimately we were able to get all of the expert testimony thrown out and rely simply upon our client’s word versus that of another trucker. However, this highlights the need to get a personal injury lawyer representing your interests out to the scene as soon as possible to document the actual facts. Because our firm has worked with all the major accident reconstruction experts in the state of Virginia (VA), we know who can and should be hired in the event that we get a call from you saying that your family has been hurt in a major truck wreck. We are in a position to act quickly to hire the necessary man power to prove what has to be proved. Truck accident cases are high stakes because interstate trucks are required to carry at least $750,000 worth of insurance coverage. Typically if there is a tractor trailer involved there is more coverage as each of the units separately has to have at least that amount of coverage. So in the usual case there is at least a million dollars of insurance on the tractor and a million dollars worth of coverage on the trailer. When a death or serious injury occurs there are typically millions of dollars on the line. It’s at times like these that you need to have an experienced attorney capable of handling a truck accident case. The recent case that I successfully resolved for the person involved in a major collision in Brunswick County, Virginia (VA) was sent to me by another attorney. Luckily this other attorney recognized that they needed to bring in me and my law firm in order to successfully pursue the claim.