Did you know that in 2013, Georgia was home to the deadliest interstate in the nation?
That’s right. Back then, there were 26 fatal accidents on the I-285 interstate that resulted in 29 deaths.
This has led to the state enacting stricter laws, including the “Hands-Free Georgia Act”. With these more stringent laws, the Peach State’s road fatality trend has gone down by over 400%. In 2019, there were 348 road fatalities in GA, compared to the total of 1,514 in 2018.
Unfortunately, many truck-related accidents still occur on Georgia’s roadways. If you’ve been in one, it’s best to learn about the different types of evidence you can use against the truck driver. This way, you can start collecting the proof you need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
One of the first steps to take right after getting involved in an accident with a truck is to call the police. In fact, in cases wherein there’s at least $500 worth of damage, reporting is a legal requirement. Many car-truck accidents reach and even go way beyond this threshold.
Even if the damage isn’t obvious, you should still get in touch with the police ASAP. This way, you can get a copy of the accident report from them. This report will contain details of the accident that can prove who’s at fault for the car-truck accident.
Electronic Logging Device (ELD) of the Truck
This is why in Georgia, truck drivers can only operate a vehicle for up to 11 hours. Moreover, they can only drive up to 11 hours after being off-duty and having rested for 10 straight hours. The law also requires all drivers to go off duty after 14 hours of being on duty.
If you’ve been in an accident with a truck, you need to get access to the driver’s hours-of-service. You can find this on either the driver’s logbook or their truck’s electronic logging device (ELD).
The Georgia Law requires the use of ELDs for all CDL trucks. These include both interstate and intrastate commercial trucks.
ELDs contain detailed reports of a driver’s hours-of-service. These devices also show the operator’s rest periods. With these logs, you can prove that a truck driver has gone beyond the allowed hours of service.
Maintenance and Inspection Reports
Federal and state laws require all CDL trucks to undergo inspection and maintenance. Truck drivers need to perform many of these on a daily basis, such as pre- and post-trip inspections. CDL truck drivers also need to prepare a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) at the end of each day.
Motor carriers also need to keep these records for all their trucks for 30 consecutive days. These reports should provide detailed information on the completed inspections and maintenance. They should also contain details about pending maintenance and repair work.
That said, these records are crucial types of evidence in case of trucking accidents. They can reveal discrepancies or fraudulent reports on truck inspections, maintenance, and repairs. They can also prove that the truck has failed to meet the required inspections or repairs.
The Truck Driver’s Most Recent Medical Certificate
In Georgia, drivers of trucks that weigh 10,001 pounds or more need to carry a medical certificate. They then need to renew this certification after 24 months.
This Department of Transportation (DOT) health certificate proves a driver’s medical qualifications. This means that the driver is fit and healthy to operate such a large vehicle.
Unfortunately, many truck drivers violate this law through fraud. An example is the indictment case against a medical examiner in Georgia back in 2017. This resulted in over 600 truck drivers having the need for renewed certification.
Aside from fraud, there are also some truck drivers who may not even have a valid medical certificate. Some self-certified truckers may also drive in a category they aren’t certified for.
All these make the DOT certificate a piece of important evidence in truck accidents. It’s possible that the truck driver who you got into a crash with has no valid certificate.
The Truck Operator’s Alcohol and Drug Test Results
In 2016, alcohol-related crashes caused 368 deaths in Georgia. This represents one in four cases of all traffic fatalities in the state that year.
Impaired driving, whether due to alcohol or drugs, raises the odds of a crash being fatal by six times. Even if the crash doesn’t result in death, injuries caused by impaired driving are more severe. Especially if the impaired driver is operating a truck that weighs a whopping 10,001 pounds or more.
As such, truck drivers need to submit to drug and alcohol tests after getting involved in an accident. Again, this is in accordance with federal and state laws. Employers must also obtain a negative drug test result before hiring CDL drivers.
Positive alcohol and drug test results will make for a solid case against the truck driver. This makes such documents an extremely important part of your evidence collection.
The Truck’s Dashboard Camera Recordings
Truck insurance premiums have gone up 12% in 2018 from the year before. This has led to many trucking companies turning to technology to reduce their costs.
One way they’re blunting their insurance costs is through installing dashboard cameras. The videos these cameras record allow them to check on their drivers’ performance.
Victims of trucking accidents can also take advantage of these recordings as evidence. For instance, a video can show if the driver was using a mobile phone while operating the truck. A recording can also give hints about impaired or drowsy driving.
Let a Lawyer Gather These Different Types of Evidence for You
As you can see, there are many different types of evidence you can use in a trucking accident case in Georgia. However, the only evidence that you can get yourself is the police report. The rest would be hard to get without the help of an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney.
One of the worst things that can happen is for the truck driver (or their employer) to destroy such evidence. The longer it takes you to get legal permission to access them, the higher the odds of them disappearing.
Our legal team here at Georgia Auto Law can help you prevent this from happening. Get in touch with us now so we can help you get the evidence you need for your trucking accident lawsuit!