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How to Handle Commercial Vehicle Accidents and Investigation

Although accidents happen all the time, each one is unique and different, especially those involving tractor trailers, buses, and other commercial vehicles. Therefore, it is important that our firm customizes where we are going right from the beginning of our initial investigation. It is imperative on a hired attorney’s part to conduct a proper investigation and take the necessary steps to ensure that nothing is missed.

Marc C. Saperstein, Esq., a founding partner of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C., as well as head of the firm’s trucking litigation department, has handled hundreds of commercial vehicle cases over the course of three decades throughout New Jersey and New York. Most recently, he has been retained by families whose children were injured in the Paramus school bus accident in May and other clients involved in trucking accidents..

“What we want to do is find out why the accident happened, how the accident happened, and whether the accident could have been preventable,” says Mr. Saperstein.

Investigating an accident, especially one concerning a commercial vehicle, is tricky. An attorney must have experience with this type of investigation and know where and how to begin. There are multiple steps that our firm takes when investigating a commercial vehicle accident. First and foremost, our attorneys meet with the client or their family to ask questions and gather thorough and detailed information that may not be known to the public. Getting to know our client and their family is a vital aspect of a case. Once we are retained, our firm immediately hires an accident reconstructionist, who can recreate an accident based on video footage, police reports, damage to the vehicle, injuries, and other information. We also hire an investigator, who scours the area where the accident took place looking for any witnesses and security footage.

It is important for the attorney to go to the location of the accident. According to Mr. Saperstein, who has personally covered the accident scene with his investigative team, “by viewing the scene, you can actually see, in nonconceptual terms, what the area looks like, if there is a debris field, if there are security cameras in the area.”

Retaining accident investigators is another crucial step in investigating a crash. This includes obtaining the police report, as well as gathering information from the first responding officers. “Many times, if there is a death involved in a case, the police investigation report will not become readily available, so we need to get our own investigation as quickly as possible, before the police report is released,” says Mr. Saperstein. First responders can offer insight into the accident that many others cannot.

In addition, we also obtain our own background criminal and driver license checks and review them for discrepancies or issues. “This all helps in reconstructing the accident,” Mr. Saperstein says. These checks can reveal any past suspensions, arrests or violations that can be used to further build a case against the defendant.

If a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, including a tractor-trailer or a bus, we also send out a spoliation letter.

What is a Spoliation Letter?

A spoliation letter is sent out in order to prevent any potential evidence from being destroyed. In this letter, the firm asks the trucking or bus company, the owners and the drivers to protect and preserve any records that may be useful to the case. Some examples of the information that may be requested are:

  • Electronic data information
  • Dash cam and cell phone video recordings or photos
  • All communications via CB radio, cell phone or satellite communication systems
  • Cell phone records
  • Tracking devices data
  • Driver’s daily logs
  • All drug and alcohol testing records of the driver
  • Proof of physical qualifications of the driver, including medical testing
  • Annual inspection reports
  • Weight tickets, fuel receipts, other records of expenses
  • EZ-pass account records
  • Social media accounts

Our firm has helped hundreds of clients and families whose lives have been affected by a serious accident with a commercial vehicle. These accidents are often devastating, not only for the lives they change, but because they are usually preventable. Many times, an accident is caused because of driver inattention and error, or failure to properly maintain the vehicle. One of the main goals of our attorneys is to not only seek justice and peace of mind for our clients, but to prevent future tragedies from occurring.

“That’s what we do,” Mr. Saperstein says. “we look to see how we can change, and how we can make trucks and trucking safer.”