Spoliation of Evidence in a Truck Accident Case
Accidents involving large commercial trucks are almost always serious and result in severe injuries. In cases involving severe injuries, medical bills and lost wages can quickly reach amounts in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. In cases involving death, funeral expenses and the loss of the deceased’s companionship and support can also cause devastating hardships for survivors. With so much potentially at stake in a truck accident case, it is crucial that evidence related to the accident is properly identified and preserved. Otherwise, you may not be able to show that the wreck was not your fault or your loved one’s fault. At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our Memphis truck accident lawyers understand steps can be taken to protect our clients’ rights and avoid spoliation of evidence related to their case. As the largest personal injury law firm based in Tennessee, we are not afraid to go toe-to-toe with trucking companies to help our clients recover maximum compensation.Preventing Spoliation of Evidence in a Trucking Accident Case
For victims injured in a truck accident, it is important to contact an attorney experienced in handling truck accident cases as soon as possible. If the attorney becomes involved in the case early enough, that person will be able to send a “spoliation” letter to the trucking company before evidence related to the accident is lost or destroyed in the ordinary course of business.
Federal law, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), requires trucking companies to follow record-retention protocol for certain documents, including truck driver logs. After a certain amount of time has passed, trucking companies may have procedures in place for the destruction of those records as part of their ordinary course of business. Some companies may even attempt to destroy or “lose” those records before that time, especially if such information is damaging to their case.
The purpose of a spoliation letter is to keep critical and relevant evidence from being lost or destroyed until the plaintiff and his or her attorney have had a chance to review the evidence. Spoliation letters can help preserve crucial evidence such as:
- Truck driver logs
- Maintenance and inspection records
- On-board computer readings
- Black box data
- Photographic and/or video evidence
- Alcohol and drug testing results of the truck driver
- Accident investigation reports
- Evidence of conversations over CB radio, cell phones, and other devices
- Trucker certifications and employment records
- Weight receipts, bills of lading, hotel bills, and other travel expenses
After a collision, the trucking company will know to send its team of investigators to the vehicle to begin looking into the crash. They may also contact the victim to immediately take his or her recorded statement. Victims who hire an attorney early on will get the benefit of a complete investigation into the wreck. For instance, an attorney can retain experts to download the truck’s black box or Electronic Control Module (ECM) data, which can provide valuable information regarding the big rig’s speed and whether any braking maneuvers were attempted prior to impact to avoid the crash.
Aside from preserving evidence, sending a spoliation letter also serves as notice of the plaintiff’s claim and as a reminder of the penalties and other legal remedies that the plaintiff may have against the trucking company if the evidence is not preserved. For instance, if the spoliation of evidence is established, the judge may instruct the jury to assume that the destroyed evidence was detrimental to the spoliating party. Furthermore, the letter serves as evidence itself of the fact that the trucking company was put on notice of the claim and asked to preserve evidence. If evidence is lost or destroyed afterwards, the plaintiff’s attorney can use the letter as evidence to pursue legal remedies against the trucking company, potentially punitive damages.Retain the Services of an Experienced Memphis Attorney
Accidents involving tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other commercial trucks can be highly technical and complex. Victims should want to retain the services of an experienced trucking accident law firm to immediately take steps to investigate, consult with experts, look for evidence, and protect their legal rights. At Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, our attorneys never want to see an injured victim go uncompensated for their injuries, especially if the collision was caused by someone else’s carelessness. If you have been injured in a truck accident in Memphis or elsewhere, contact our trucking accident lawyers today and allow us to begin taking steps to protect your claims. Our firm assists accident victims in cities like Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga, Caruthersville, Hayti, Oxford, Starkville, Grenada, Columbus, Tupelo, Meridian, Jackson, Little Rock, Jonesboro, and other cities across Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Schedule a free consultation with a truck wreck attorney today by calling toll-free at 800-529-4004 or by filling out our online form. NST is the way to go.