Trucking Crash 101: Send Spoliation Letter IMMEDIATELY to Preserve Evidence after Truck Accident

Tractor Trailer Truck in Nashville Tennessee

Long ago, back in my claims adjusting days, I was on what was called at CAT Team, short for Catastrophic investigation.  I would be called out at 3 a.m. some nights and was told to “secure our driver and our evidence” after a major truck/tractor trailer wreck.

I would show up, gather up the logbook(s), and advise the driver to say nothing more to the police officers.  If there was evidence at the scene, I was to get whatever I could, take pictures of everything, and prevent the driver from further incriminating himself.  Just bringing up what my duties were makes me feel dirty.

The insurance company is well aware of your truck wreck situation.  They have prepared for just an event like yours long ago.  They have already gotten pictures.  They have already gathered logbooks that might have clues to how long the driver has been driving, but don’t want you to know it.   They have already gathered the maintenance (or lack thereof) records from the truck.  Importantly, they have already taken possession of the truck, and have moved it to their own in house facility to be repaired.

During all of this time, you are at the hospital, or you are stuck in surgery, or in a waiting room while your loved one hangs on to life by a thread.  You are more concerned, initially, with the health of your family, how much pain is your loved on experiencing, and how in the world you are going to pay for all the damage that is done. 

You MUST protect yourself now.  You have to think with logic and not your emotions.  If you think that you are going to wait this out and it is going to get better, you are making a HUGE MISTAKE.

Trucking companies hold most of the evidence that is going to be used against them.  They can legitimately destroy logbooks 6 months after a crash, incredibly.   If there is a dispute as to how fast the truck was going, the on board data will be destroyed sometimes the next time the truck is started up and driven.  Once this information is lost, it may be lost forever.  Good for the trucking company. Bad for you.   

There is only one way to protect yourself.  You must send a spoliation letter to the trucking company and their insurance company NOW.  

What is a Spoliation Letter?

A spoliation letter is a letter that is drafted by a lawyer directly to the trucking company and its insurance carrier, which specifically outlines what they are to do to preserve evidence from being destroyed.  This letter will put the carrier on notice that a claim is being made and they need to act accordingly.  Otherwise they will claim they had no idea that they might be a defendant in a claim against them.  They will claim they were not the primary cause of the wreck, even when they know this is simply not true.

This letter can become evidence later and used against the trucking company if they disregard the notice.   You can also send a spoliation letter to other related parties in the accident, like a broker or management company, or a maintenance and repair company, asking them to preserve evidence also.  The court can later place sanctions (or penalties) against the trucking company for willfully destroying evidence. 
 

Examples of the types of evidence the trucking company should preserve:

•    Statements from witnesses at the scene
•    Speed of the tractor trailer at the time immediately before impact.
•    How long a tractor trailer had been stationary or stopped on a shoulder before being involved in a crash. 
•    Insurance policy details
•    Driver alcohol and drug testing results post crash/ pre-crash
•    Driver Logs
•    Data from the on-board data recorder. 
•    Dash Cam video
•    Permit information
•    Load information
•    Maintenance Reports
•    Pictures taken at the scene
•    Incident reports completed by the truck driver 

If you or your family has been injured in a trucking related incident, you need to get someone in your camp NOW who is going to watch out for your and protect your family’s future.  John Griffith has extensive experience in trying and handling tractor trailer cases for his clients.  This letter needs to be done today.   If you want to protect your family, call GriffithLaw today and we will immediately begin to protect you from what may be harming your case while you do nothing but wait. Call our firm today at 615.807.7900 or fill out our contact form.

John Griffith
Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney