I’ve been a plaintiff’s lawyer for more than 30 years, so of course I believe that hiring a lawyer is usually the right move for victims of trucking and automobile crashes. But aside from my (admittedly biased) perspective, there is actually a very good reason for hiring an experienced truck crash attorney as soon as possible.
You need your own investigator.
With very few exceptions, when a crash involves serious injuries or fatalities, a law enforcement investigation begins immediately.
When a crash involves serious injuries or fatalities, and a semi-truck, a specially trained team conducts an enhanced and detailed investigation.
Most of the time, law enforcement investigations get the facts and conclusions right. But there are times when we have had to strongly dispute the conclusions of a police investigation.
These disputes have not been the result of unsupported facts or quick judgement; they are the result of our own independent investigation, thoughtfully conducted with objective intentions.
How a truck crash attorney investigates a crash
When we are hired by victims of a crash, we undertake an effort to get all law enforcement investigation materials.
We also conduct our own independent interviews of witnesses and we work beyond the witness list provided by law enforcement.
Often, law enforcement does not take the opportunity to interview every possible witness. In reviewing the law enforcement file, we look for any additional witness names from the computer-aided dispatch. This report provides telephone numbers for witnesses calling 9-1-1.
We often find that law enforcement has not interviewed witnesses who called 9-1-1 to report the crash.
Sometimes, 9-1-1 callers are with other people. We try to interview those folks as well, to determine if anything they saw or heard is relevant.
From all witnesses, including those not interviewed by law enforcement, we ask for any photographs or videos. Once, we obtained a video of a multiple-vehicle crash scene that provided important information regarding road conditions. The video was only discovered because we tracked down a witness that police had missed.
On another occasion, we found several witnesses that had been following a semi-truck before it crashed. They described for us how the semi-truck had been weaving before entering an intersection and colliding with our clients’ mini-van.
Other witnesses at the scene were able to describe the condition of our clients as they were pinned in the vehicle and waiting for aid to arrive. The details of what these witnesses were able to share helped us present the claims of these clients in a way that would not have been otherwise possible.
Finally, I want to share a case example that involves going beyond law enforcement questioning to get more details or an understanding of what a witness is trying to explain.
A true story of a fatal truck crash investigation
It’s one of the tougher cases I have had as a truck crash attorney.
I was retained by the family of a man who was killed when he was run over by the off-tracking rear wheels of a tanker trailer. His death was very sad for his big, close-knit family and kids.
Law enforcement officers had interviewed a witness to the event, who said the man had “backed up” near the wheels of the tanker truck. That one phrase led the officers to blame the victim for his death. The police report implied that he had somehow maneuvered himself under the rear wheels of a tanker truck.
My office undertook our own investigation. We found this important witness. We asked her questions during a videotaped deposition, and she was able to illustrated what she meant by “backing up.”
Her description made it clear that law enforcement had misunderstood her statement. The police report’s conclusion was not supported by the only witness to the fatal incident.
We were happy to resolve this case on behalf of this family.
At Coluccio Law, we don’t take anything for granted. We have the skills and experience work to investigate and understand the critical facts, and we challenge conclusions to confirm there are supported and logical. That’s the value of an experienced truck crash attorney.
Attorney Kevin Coluccio