Yes and no. Missouri trucks have electronic on-board computers that automatically record the number of hours drivers spend behind the wheel. However, some recorders can do much more than that, and resemble the “black boxes” in airplanes. These are capable of recording speed, miles traveled, and the maneuvers the vehicle was attempting before the accident.
As you can imagine, many trucking companies do not want to install these more intelligent black boxes because they would considerably increase the odds of trucker liability in a crash case. Even if they have the standard data recorder, the trucking company is not likely going to release its contents to you without an attorney’s order.
An attorney acting on your behalf is also more likely to gather valuable evidence, including:
- Scene investigation. The best and most effective evidence in your case is to fully investigate the scene of the crash. This includes assessing the damage to both vehicles, tire tracks and skid marks on the roadway, and condition of the highway where the accident occurred. Any of these can prove fault in the accident, but it is vital that the scene be inspected quickly so that the evidence is not cleared away.
- Truck company records. Attorneys can gain access to vital internal documents, such as a driver's drug tests, past driving record and accident history, and driver log book—which shows rest periods and mandatory maintenance checks.
- Preventing loss of evidence. Soon after you hire representation, your attorney should file a spoliation letter with the trucking company. This prevents the company from destroying or modifying any records that could be used in your case. If this action is not taken, there is a greater chance the evidence in the trucking company’s possession may be changed or discarded, making it your word against theirs in court.
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