Truck accident investigations in West Virginia and around the country tend to be thorough when property damage is significant or road users are seriously injured or killed. In addition to conducting toxicology tests on the drivers involved and taking statements from witnesses, law enforcement may examine semi-tractor trailers, scrutinize maintenance logs and obtain electronic information from commercial vehicle data recorders.
When accident investigators inspect semi-tractor trailers that have crashed, they look for signs of neglected or inadequate maintenance and botched repairs. They may also test safety systems to find out if they were working properly prior to the accident and verify that proper parts were used to maintain the truck. Investigators may pay particularly close attention to truck wheels as blowouts and other tire-related issues cause about 30% of all large truck accidents.
Truck drivers work on tight schedules and may find it difficult to find work if they do not deliver their cargo on time, which could encourage them to remain behind the wheel even after they become dangerously fatigued. This is why checking hours-of-service logs is a standard part of truck accident investigations. These are electronic records that show when truck drivers took federally mandated rest breaks. Other electronic data could reveal how fast trucks were traveling before they crashed and what actions their drivers took to avoid a collision.
Evidence of negligence
The information contained in truck crash investigations could be used by motor vehicle accident victims to establish negligence if it reveals that trucks were not maintained properly, truck drivers were fatigued or impaired, or cargo was not properly secured. When pursuing commercial vehicle accident lawsuits, experienced personal injury attorneys may also seek to gather evidence of negligence by using subpoenas to obtain the truck driver’s medical or cellphone records.