Questions We Are Asked Each Week By Clients...
We are often asked questions like how much should the insurance company pay? How are my weekly benefits calculated?, etc. So we have put together some of the questions we here the most and the answers to them. We hope this helps you avoid making a mistake in your Iowa personal injury, car accident, dog bite, work injury or other injury matter.
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Per the trucking company’s rights, how long does it have to preserve truck driver records before it can destroy them?
A commercial trucking company needs to preserve hours of service records for a period of only six months. After this time period is over, per the trucking company’s rights, it may destroy the records. A driver qualification, meanwhile, must be kept as long as the driver is employed and then three years thereafter.
A spoliation letter can be sent to the company by an attorney to prevent the company from destroying truck driver records and any other documents or evidence relevant to an upcoming or ongoing truck accident claim or lawsuit.
A truck accident victim may file a claim for damages if the accident was caused by a truck driver. In case the truck is owned by a commercial trucking company, then apart from the truck driver, the owner of the company may be held responsible for the accident. Thus it is not hard to understand why it is in the interests of the company to destroy the evidence to protect its reputation and avoid a costly lawsuit.
Truck Driver Records That Could Be Used in a Truck Accident Claim
A huge volume of evidence is usually available in the event of a truck accident and the truck driver’s records provide some of the most crucial pieces of evidence:
- medical records that indicate whether the driver was fit to drive;
- cell phone records that indicate if the driver was on the phone;
- qualification file that indicates if the driver was qualified to operate a truck;
- employment history; and
- driving history of the at-fault driver that includes a list of driving violations.
The “Black Box” after a Truck Accident
The “black box” recorder in the truck can prove to be valuable pieces of evidence in a truck accident case. This includes logs of whether the truck driver was operating beyond the limits of “hours of service” regulations and was fatigued.
Drivers are limited in the time they can spend behind the wheel and on duty. For instance, drivers of property-carrying vehicles cannot drive more than one hour after 10 consecutive hours off duty (or 10 hours after eight hours off duty for passenger-carrying drivers), and cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive on-duty hour (15th consecutive on-duty hour for passenger-carrying vehicles).
There are several other provisions that truck drivers must follow, and this information must be kept in the driver’s ‘black box’ or log books. Information of the last seven days must be kept onboard by the driver, and, as mentioned, employers must keep it for at least six months. But an accident claim often extends beyond this period, which is why sending a spoliation letter to preserve these and other records is so important.
Contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair for Help
It is thus imperative that truck accident victims contact a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in the federal trucking laws. In addition to ensuring that the trucking company does not destroy evidence victims must also preserve medical bills and all receipts that specify the repair and replacement costs of the vehicle damaged in the accident.
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident and wish to pursue legal action, give Walker, Billingsley, & Bair a call. Contact us at 641-792-3595 to schedule your consultation with an attorney in Des Moines.
Is it true that a trucking company can destroy truck driver records pertaining to my truck accident?
It is the trucking company’s right to destroy certain truck driver records after a specified period of time. One of the ways to help prevent this from happening after a truck accident is by having an attorney send a spoliation letter, which advises the company that all pertinent documentation must be preserved, maintained and protected.
Preserving the Record of Duty Status
One of the most important pieces of evidence that could be useful in establishing fault is the driver’s record of duty status. The information recorded by the driver includes his/her time on and off duty, use of the sleeper berth and the amount of time actually spent driving.
Regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require that the trucking company maintain the records of duty status and any supporting documents for at least six months. The spoliation letter can inform the trucking company that it is required to preserve these records, as they are relevant to the truck accident claim.
Other Documents Important to a Truck Accident Case
Depending on the cause of the crash or any suspicions raised concerning other types of negligence that may have been contributing factors in the accident, there could be other records that would be valuable. Another example is the driver qualification files, which are kept with the driver’s personnel file.
Information from the qualification file includes motor vehicle record, application for employment, annual review of driving record, certification of violations, medical examiner’s certificate and more. One of the issues that might be called into question is whether or not the truck driver was qualified to operate a big rig in the first place.
Numerous other types of records are maintained by the trucking company, not only in regards to their drivers but the vehicles as well. To ensure their protection, an attorney may decide to send a spoliation letter.
How a Spoliation Letter Can Protect Truck Driver Records after an Accident
Since the preservation of evidence is critical after a crash, it’s important to talk with an attorney as soon as possible. This will allow time to discuss the case and the attorney to send a spoliation letter to the company outlining records that should be preserved.
Its best to provide detailed information of the types of documentation, records and paperwork that is to be kept. The letter should stipulate that evidence isn’t to be destroyed, erased, altered or otherwise manipulated and should put the company on notice that additional damages could be sought if they fail to adhere to the request.
The sooner an attorney gets the records, the quicker a case can be built. Truck accidents offer greater potential to obtain evidence compared to other kinds of crashes because of the availability of the truck company’s records. It’s critical to take full advantage of this.
For help with a claim, contact an attorney today. The law firm of Walker, Billingsley & Bair can assist clients wishing to collect all relevant documentation and to ensure all records are preserved.
Can I file a truck accident claim if my vehicle was struck from falling cargo and not the truck itself?
Drivers struck by falling cargo from a large truck can file a truck accident claim, this is called an unsecured load and unfortunately, most truck accident lawyers are very familiar with this situation. Many times, the cargo is secured inside a tractor trailer, but sometimes the cargo is not enclosed in a trailer.
The cargo, such as pipes, logs and boxes, may be exposed. If the cargo is not secure, then the cargo can enter the roadway creating a very dangerous hazard. An Iowa law firm in Des Moines can help victims of accidents caused by this loose cargo establish accident liability and recover compensation for damages.
Filing a Truck Accident Claim
Even if the truck does not physically crash into another vehicle, victims of accidents caused by falling cargo can still file a truck accident claim. This is because truck drivers and companies have a responsibility to keep cargo secure so that others are not injured. In addition, truck drivers have a duty to drive safely. This means in a manner so that cargo does not fall off the trailer and into the path of other vehicles.
A driver must suffer damages or injuries caused by the falling cargo in order to file a claim. Simply witnessing the act of cargo falling off a trailer does not warrant a claim. A lawyer with an Iowa law firm in Des Moines can answer any questions about whether a client has a valid claim.
Determining Accident Liability
Determining liability is the most important part of a claim. If the truck driver was the one who loaded the cargo, then he or she may be held responsible for causing the accident. If another employee of the trucking or shipping company loaded the cargo, then he or she may bear some responsibility.
If the driver is hauling cargo for a trucking or shipping company, then the truck company may be liable under a law called respondeat superior. This means that the company bears liability for any injuries or harmful acts caused by employees during the course of their employment. In order to hold the company liable, the victim must be able to prove that the truck driver or another employee of the trucking company was negligent. If a third-party loaded the cargo, that party may be found to hold accident liability.
Another thing to consider is product defects. If the truck driver or others securely loaded the cargo but a defect with the trailer led to the cargo coming loose and spilling onto the roadway, the manufacturer of the trailer could hold accident liability.
In addition, multiple parties could be at fault for cargo-related accidents and injuries in a truck accident claim. Sometimes the trucking company and other companies could be held liable for damages. An Iowa law firm in Des Moines can review the facts in a case and help establish accident liability.
Contacting an Iowa Law Firm in Des Moines
Walker, Billingsley and Bair is an Iowa law firm in Des Moines with lawyers who can help victims injured by semi trucks and trailers, including accidents involving loose cargo that spills onto the roadway causing a collision with the truck, other vehicles, or structures around the roadway. Contact us today at (641) 792-0289 to schedule your consultation and for help pursuing a truck accident claim.
What are the truck regulations or laws for truck drivers in Iowa?
Yes, there are truck regulations and laws for truck drivers in Iowa. Some of these are in addition to regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Such regulations and laws may be cited by a Des Moines injury lawyer when bringing a truck accident injury case, especially if the driver was in violation of a law.
Iowa Laws for Truck Drivers
One of the laws in Iowa pertains to texting. All drivers, including those who operate semi-trucks, are banned from texting while driving. Talking on a hand-held cell phone is also prohibited.
In terms of accident reporting, an accident report must be filed in Iowa if any of the following is true:
- property damage of all vehicles is $1,500 or greater;
- at least one person is injured; and/or
- at least one person is killed.
Further, and more specific to truckers, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) enforces rules pertaining to the transportation of hazardous materials. This falls under the Transportation of Hazardous Materials Driving and Parking Rules. Trucks transporting such material are required to have a placard.
If there is an accident in Iowa involving a truck carrying hazardous materials, local law enforcement or Iowa State Patrol Communications should be notified. Other agencies that will get involved include the Iowa DOT’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Des Moines Injury Lawyers Can Review Truck Regulation Violations
Laws for truck drivers are numerous and also include maximum weight and length requirements when operating on Iowa’s roads and highways. If there is a concern that a law or regulation was violated and it was the cause of a crash, a Des Moines injury lawyer may help sort out fault and liability for the accident. Victims can consult an attorney about the truck regulations that may have been violated and discuss how it may affect a claim.
Will rain or other weather conditions reduce driver liability for my car accident?
Rain or other types of inclement weather doesn’t usually reduce driver liability for a car accident in Iowa. Although it may be taken into consideration, there are still expectations to drive with caution when there is bad weather. An Iowa injury attorney in Ankeny will examine the details of the accident and any evidence that may indicate the other driver acted negligently, such as speeding in bad weather.
Impact of Rain and Other Weather Conditions in a Car Accident
Whenever someone gets behind the wheel, it’s important to drive according to weather conditions. This means slowing down to an appropriate speed if it’s raining, snowing, or if there is fog or other weather conditions that make driving more dangerous.
The same is true for making sure enough distance is kept between vehicles. Having to stop in slippery conditions can be challenging, so there must be enough space to allow for safe stopping.
If there is evidence that a traffic law was broken (such as speeding, running a red light or intoxication), then a traffic citation will likely be issued. This citation can be a valuable piece of evidence when filing a claim following a car accident in Iowa, as it can demonstrate that a driver acted negligently.
Yet not receiving a citation doesn’t negate a person’s responsibility to drive slowly and carefully when it’s raining outside. In fact, with the risk of an accident being elevated in these conditions, there may be an even greater expectation placed on drivers to drive in a responsible manner.
An Iowa Injury Attorney in Ankeny Can Help Prove Driver Liability in a Car Accident
If someone has been seriously injured and it’s believed that another driver was the cause – whether or not the accident took place in poor weather – it is important to seek legal counsel.
At Walker, Billingsley & Bair in Iowa, an injury attorney can help Ankeny drivers who have been in a serious accident. A lawyer can evaluate the circumstances surrounding a crash – such as weather conditions, driver behavior, and more – to determine driver liability.
Who is at fault in a car accident involving a U-turn?
It's not uncommon to wonder who is at fault for a car accident involving U-turn.
- whether the U-turn was made legally;
- if it was done safely; and
- if there were other contributing factors.
When it comes to U-turns and left-turn accidents, fault often lies with the driver making the turn, although this is obviously not always the case. Drivers involved in an accident can consult a Des Moines personal injury attorney to go over the circumstances and details of the accident.
Legality of a U-Turn
The first consideration is whether it was legal. Unless there is a sign that explicitly indicates a U-turn is illegal, it is generally not against the law in Des Moines.
One scenario, however, in which a U-turn may be illegal even without a sign prohibiting it is when it’s performed from the wrong lane. An example would be making a U-turn from a middle or right lane.
Safety of a U-Turn
The other issue is whether or not the U-turn was made safely. Turning in a tight area makes it unsafe. Not waiting for big enough gaps in traffic or making the turn slowly can make it unsafe.
Another example of an unsafe U-turn is making one and then failing to keep up with the flow of traffic. A sudden stop or slowing down could cause an accident.
Another issue would be a motorist who makes a U-turn and blocks traffic. This presents a danger to other drivers and could lead to a crash.
Other Contributing Factors in a U-Turn
There could be other factors that weigh into who is at fault for a car accident involving a U-turn. For instance, a legal U-turn could still result in the driver being at fault if he or she was texting at the time or did not yield to other vehicles, such drivers turning right with a solid green or green arrow.
There can be several extenuating circumstances that impact U-turn or left-turn accident fault. It may require seeking legal counsel. A Des Moines personal injury attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can handle these types of traffic cases and can help determine who is at fault in a car accident involving a U-turn.
Can uninsured motorist coverage help if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Uninsured motorist coverage can help if you were injured by another driver who doesn’t have insurance. For help exercising or understanding your rights when filing a car insurance claim, contact auto accident attorneys in Des Moines.
You might be surprised how many motorists fail to carry auto insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the state of Iowa ranks number 24 when it comes to uninsured drivers. About 11.5 percent weren’t insured in the year 2009.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Can Help
If you have uninsured motorist coverage and you are injured by another driver who fails to carry any, your medical costs and other damages may be covered in your car insurance claim. If there were passengers in your vehicle that also suffered injuries, they are protected as well.
Although this type of coverage isn’t required in Iowa, it’s definitely recommended. Not only because of the protection it provides when involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, but it also covers injuries in a hit and run.
The good news is that it’s fairly inexpensive. The more coverage you have, the better protected you will be. Keep in mind that damages for a car insurance claim will be covered up to the limits of your policy. The most common amounts that consumers purchase in coverage are $100,000 for one person and $300,000 per accident.
Contacting Auto Accident Attorneys in Des Moines
Most people wonder what can be done when another driver doesn’t carry insurance and injuries result from his or her negligence. Contact an attorney at Walker, Billingsley & Bair. We can explore the legal options that may be available in addition to using uninsured motorist coverage.
How does a city truck accident claim differ from a regular truck accident?
A city truck accident claim is mainly different from a regular truck accident claim because it involves the government, which is why your claim should be filed in City Hall instead of through an insurance company.
The process of filing a suit against a government entity isn’t handled the same way and can be more problematic, which is why victims in Iowa should speak with a personal injury lawyer in Des Moines to ensure their rights.
Filing a City Truck Accident Claim
City trucks can include:
- fire engines;
- utility vehicles; and
- garbage trucks.
When you have been injured in an accident with a government vehicle in Des Moines, you can fill out an Automobile Claim Form and submit it to the Legal Department at City Hall.
The form asks for general information about:
- your car;
- any injuries;
- witnesses to the accident; and
- a description of the accident.
You will attach any relevant documents or other evidence to the form when submitting it; therefore, make sure you take pictures of any injuries sustained, damages to your vehicle, and any other pertinent physical evidence. It also requires two different estimates for the damages that are claimed for any property damage stemming from the automobile accident.
If the claim is denied by the city, then you may choose to pursue a lawsuit to recover damages, with which a personal injury attorney can assist. Contact an attorney for help filing your claim form with the city, too, in order to avoid the risk of leaving out essential information, which in turn can devalue or void your claim altogether.
Seeking Help from a Personal Injury Lawyer in Des Moines
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 there were 390 traffic fatalities in Iowa. If you are in an accident and are injured because of the negligence of a city truck driver, contact a lawyer at Walker, Billingsley & Bair at (888) 435-9886. We can review the details of your situation to determine if you have the right to file a city truck accident claim.
What types of records do I need to obtain as evidence for my Marshalltown truck accident claim?
When filing an injury claim, your Marshalltown truck accident lawyer will need to gather certain types of records to use as evidence in your accident case. While you may be able to collect some documentation on your own, an attorney may need to help you pull information on the driver and the trucking company.
The police report that is filed after your collision is crucial evidence in an accident case. A police report not only describes the accident scene, but also contains the officer’s opinion on who (or what) was at fault for the crash. If the other driver was impaired, this should be in the report as well.
In order to recover compensation for your injury claim, you have to establish your injuries as well as the actual expenses and estimated costs for any future treatment or therapy that may be required. As medical expenses often comprise a large portion of the compensation sought in an accident claim, providing adequate evidence may be very important.
Truck Driver’s Driving Records
If there is a pattern of reckless driving on behalf of the truck driver, it may only help your case. If this is the case, your Marshalltown truck accident lawyer can show that the trucking company was at fault by allowing him or her to continue driving despite a pattern of reckless behavior.
Contact a Marshalltown Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident can be extremely difficult, especially if you have sustained serious injuries. For assistance, retain the services of a lawyer for help collecting evidence in an accident case.
At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our team of lawyers will work to ensure that you receive compensation for damages experienced as a result of the collision. For information about injury claims, download our e-book on the seven secrets to not wreck your case or contact our office at (888) 435-9886 to schedule an appointment with a Marshalltown truck accident lawyer.
What can I do to preserve my vehicle as evidence when it is towed from the accident scene?
Des Moines car accident attorneys recommend filing a car accident claim if you’re involved in a wreck. A claim can help you recover costs for damages, medical bills, lost wages and more. Unfortunately though, claims such as these are often made difficult when the vehicles involved in the collision are towed away and evidence is lost or destroyed.
To prevent this from happening in your claim, our Des Moines car accident attorneys recommend you do the following.
- Find out where your car is being towed immediately. Contact your lawyer and ask him or her to send a preservation letter to the tow yard, requesting that the vehicle remain intact and untouched. If this doesn’t work, your attorney can also file a motion in court to order the tow yard to preserve your car.
- Get your car moved to a private, covered storage area. Not only do tow yards typically charge a high daily cost for keeping your car, but also they often will destroy or scrap a car very quickly because of space and time constraints. You can prevent this by housing the vehicle in your own private unit. This also staves off vandalism or any other tampering.
- Just in case, take pictures. Always keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment. If you’re ever involved in a wreck, snap photos of your damaged car, the accident scene and more. In the event evidence is lost, destroyed or tampered with, you still have evidence to proceed with your accident claim.
Are you planning to file an accident claim? Call 1- (888) 435-9886 to speak to the Des Moines car accident attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair about your case, or learn more by ordering the free book, The Legal Insider’s Guide to Iowa Car Accidents: 7 Secrets to Not Wreck Your Case.