It’s imperative to secure evidence in the aftermath of a truck accident, as time is of the essence, and every second counts. Unfortunately, in some cases, trucking companies may attempt to destroy or alter evidence to avoid liability. Understanding this tactic and how to prevent it are crucial to protecting your rights.
Does law allow trucking companies to destroy evidence?
Legally, trucking companies are not allowed to destroy evidence that could be relevant to a truck accident investigation. Laws and regulations require them to preserve various records and data related to their operations and vehicles. Destroying evidence, or destruction, is illegal and can lead to severe legal consequences. However, because some evidence can legally be disposed of after a certain period, acting promptly is crucial to preserve all relevant information.
Evidence available in large truck accidents
Several types of evidence are crucial for determining what happened and who is at fault in a large truck accident. This evidence can be instrumental in building a solid legal case.
GPS or Black box
Modern trucks often have GPS devices or black boxes that record vital data such as the truck’s speed, braking, and steering patterns during the accident. This information can provide invaluable insights into the truck driver’s actions before the collision.
Physical and electronic records
Logbooks and Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): These records show the driver’s service hours, indicating if fatigue may have been a factor due to HOS violations. Maintenance records: These can reveal if the truck was properly maintained or if negligence in its upkeep contributed to the accident. Employment records and training documents: These can indicate whether the driver was adequately trained and if they had any prior incidents or violations. Communication records: Emails, messages, or notes between the driver and the trucking company can sometimes pressure the driver to meet deadlines, potentially leading to reckless driving. Trucking companies need to invest in life saving technology to save the evidence and life of truck drivers.
Who is liable in a trucking accident? Trucking company or Truck Driver?
Determining liability in a trucking accident can be complex. Depending on the circumstances, the truck driver and the trucking company could be held responsible. Trucking company liability: The company may be liable under the “respondeat superior” legal doctrine if the driver acted within their employment scope. Additionally, if the company neglected vehicle maintenance, violated safety regulations, or pressured the driver to ignore Hours of Service rules, it can also be held responsible. Truck driver liability: If the accident was caused by the driver’s actions, such as speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence, the driver can be held liable.
Preventive measures on the destruction of evidence
To prevent the destruction of evidence in a truck accident case, specific steps should be taken promptly:
Sending spoliation letter
A spoliation letter is a legal document sent to the trucking company, informing them of your claim and demanding that all evidence of the accident be preserved. This includes vehicle data, driver logs, and maintenance records.
Filing a temporary restraining order
In some cases, it might be necessary to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) in court to prohibit the trucking company from altering or destroying evidence legally.
Gathering evidence at the scene of an accident
Collecting evidence at the accident scene, such as photos of the crash site, vehicle damages, and road conditions, is crucial. This should be done as soon as possible, as these conditions can change rapidly.
Statement of witnesses
Witness statements can provide independent accounts of the accident and should be collected promptly while the event is fresh in their memory.
Hiring a reconstruction expert and legal expert
A reconstruction expert can analyze the evidence to determine how the accident occurred, which is vital for establishing liability. Additionally, contact us on hiring a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer, like J.G. Winter Law, ensures that your rights are protected and that you have an expert navigating the legal complexities of your case.