What your attorney can do to protect you
Most big trucking corporations have a legal team ready to jump into action as soon as an accident occurs. They keep a playbook of tactics for minimizing liability. I know these tactics well; I have encountered them time and time again. But I have my own playbook of strategies to protect my clients’ rights.
Not hiring an experienced attorney right away can put the victim at a disadvantage. An attorney can counter these common defense tactics:
1. Be first to the scene
The tractor-trailer company retains private investigators to immediately show up on the scene. These investigators walk around without restraint, taking photographs, interviewing witnesses, chatting with police officers, and looking for mitigating evidence.
A company investigator may even give the false impression that he is a police officer so victims are more forthcoming. They then use the statements made in the frightening aftermath of the accident and often twist around the victim’s words or take them out of context.
This is why I also head to the scene for my clients. I gather evidence at this crucial stage and prevent the defendant from speaking to my client.
2. Destroy the electronic paper trail
While the corporation’s investigators are at the scene, executives may be in the office destroying the electronic paper trail. I, therefore, immediately obtain a motion that requires the defendant to retain all electronic evidence tied to the case.
Regardless of the law, some defendants think nobody will find out if they delete an incriminating file. If I believe that evidence was destroyed, I petition the court to allow a forensic investigation.
3. “Repair” the truck
Defendants act fast to destroy the truck. They will either “repair” the truck or dismantle a totaled vehicle for scrap. Sounds innocent enough, but it’s not. The real reason for taking apart the truck is to destroy evidence before the plaintiff’s attorney has an opportunity to inspect it.
One of the first things I do is to obtain an emergency order that prohibits the company from tampering with the tractor-trailer. My experts and I then carefully inspect the truck and gather important evidence. I have often found the smoking gun during these inspections, which can make a big difference to my client’s recovery.
4. Blame the victim
In 2014, a dangerously sleep-deprived Walmart truck driver slammed into the van carrying comedians Tracy Morgan and Kevin Roper and other friends. The accident killed Roper and severely injured Morgan. The driver had fallen asleep at the wheel after being awake for more than 24 hours because of Walmart scheduling policies.
The company tried to get out of paying for its shocking negligence by insisting the plaintiffs should have been wearing seat belts. An incredulous Morgan, exclaimed, “Walmart is blaming me for an accident they caused.”
Whereas Morgan was surprised, I wasn’t. Walmart pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book: Blame the victims.
Even with overwhelming evidence stacked against it, the defendant will emphasize a plaintiff’s minor mistake, such as lack of seat belt, to shift blame away from its gross negligence, such as putting an exhausted driver on the road.
To counter this tactic, I introduce evidence that establishes causality, a primarily element in accident recovery. In the tire driver example, I would demonstrate that the accident would not have occurred but for the sleep-deprivation of the driver. I also refute that my client could have avoided injury in such a horrific crash.
Don’t let the trucking company get the upper hand. Contact Berenson Injury Law for a free consultation so you can learn more about building a strong case for damages recovery.