Before answering this question, allow us to explain what a “spoliation of evidence letter” or “preservation letter” is. This letter is sent to the trucking company for the at-fault driver requesting that it preserve certain evidence or potential evidence that may be relevant to your injury case against it and its driver. It helps fight against the destruction of evidence that is helpful to your truck accident case.
Great. You now know what it is but why is it so important?
First, because by the time you decide you need to pursue a claim against the trucking company for your injuries, several investigations into how the truck accident occurred have already taken place. This means you are already behind on your investigation into the cause of the accident before you even begin.
Who has already investigated the accident? For starters, law enforcement and/or the DOT or both have likely already conducted an investigation. Most importantly, the trucking company and/or its insurance company have. Once these investigations are done, typically the trucking company is free to repair or replace the truck involved in the accident and can destroy any other evidence related to the cause of the accident.
Second, because the DOT only requires trucking companies to keep certain records such as driver logs and on-board computer readings for six months. Therefore, many trucking companies have procedures where this evidence is destroyed immediately after the six month period has elapsed.
What Sort of Evidence Is Important to Preserve?
Our standard practice is to ask that any relevant evidence regarding the driver, the truck and trailer involved in the accident and the trucking company regarding maintenance and safety issues be preserved. Here is a list of typical items of evidence that are crucial to request preservation of:
- Driver logs of the at-fault driver;
- On-Board computer records;
- Bills of Lading re: the truck and driver;
- Dispatch logs and other records;
- Accident investigation records, photographs, videos etc.;
- Daily Inspection Reports;
- Drug and alcohol tests taken post accident;
- Maintenance and inspection records of the truck and trailer involved; and
- Trucking company safety records; employee records; maintenance records.
The above are just a few of the general categories of evidence a good spoliation letter to a trucking company after a truck accident should cover. A good spoliation letter is just one of many reasons why it is always advisable to speak to a qualified truck accident lawyer about representation of your tractor-trailer accident case. There are simply too many issues to be addressed to protect your rights to go it alone.