Does Using a Cellphone Ensure 100% Liability on Part of the Truck Driver?
Potentially. If the truck driver used a cell phone during a trucking accident in violation of the federal laws prohibiting certain cell phone uses, then the first step is to establish the evidence that proves so. The truck accident attorney should get the admissions, take the deposition of the truck driver, and establish that they were on their cell phone. Then you need to file a motion for summary judgement with the court saying that the driver admits to the cell phone usage. You should be able to establish liability just simply through the use of the cell phone, but the judge has some discretion on whether to grant the motion for summary judgement.
What Evidence Proves to Be Most Useful In Such An Accident Case?
Evidence that would be useful in such cases would be the cell phone records from the provider. Your truck accident attorney also needs to request the emails and the text messages from the company. If you get the feeling that the company itself is calling the truck driver on their cell phone, with a company-owned cell phone, your lawyer need to request and subpoena those records. With every witness that they talk to at the trucking company in a deposition, your attorney need to ask in the first 50 questions what their cell phone number is. Get a list of cell phone numbers and providers, and request those records from them. A standard request of production in a standard interrogatory should include questions on what type of electronic devices did you have in the cab of the truck with you, and provide all of the records from those devices for the day of the wreck, and then as much as you can get going back from there.
Some of the companies have on-board monitoring devices that log the truck driver's time, but it will also monitor the speed of the truck. It will send electronic messages to the company itself to alert them of when the driver was speeding. Those alerts can be turned on or turned off, which is useful in a case. This is because if they went to the trouble to buy one of these monitoring systems that can monitor whether their drivers are driving safely or not, and they pay the extra money for it, why don't they use the feature? Why did they turn it off - is it because they don't want to know that their drivers are driving too fast, or not following regulations? Certainly a good truck accident attorney will find out what kind of a computerized system is onboard that they use to monitor their drivers, and then get the related records.
A lot of the companies that provide these truck data monitoring systems, like to brag about how effective their programs are for renegade truck drivers. You can print out the pages of the website of the company, and their grade for the negligent trucking companies. Try to figure out if they were using the features that the companies who sell this software and these monitoring systems say you should use if you are a safe company.
What Are some Examples of Successful Outcomes You Have Had in Trucking Accident Cases Involving Cellphone Use?
We had one case in Louisiana where the commercial driver picked up their cell phone-you could see them in a video, as there was an inward facing video on this particular incident. They stopped suddenly in traffic, as they hit someone. There was a very large settlement over that, because they violated the company rule on cell phone usage. There was also the negligent truck driver in Beaumont, Texas who was using his cell phone who crashed into the truck in front of them, and obliterated two vehicles on the side of the road. That was a very large truck accident settlement also. We also had a case in Oklahoma where there was a commercial truck driver that drove out in front of a train, and there was a massive train collision as a result of that, which I believe had a $5.5 million settlement. Overall, we've had some very good results on serious cases. Unfortunately the people involved suffered very significant injuries.
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