There is a lot of valuable documentation and information that accident victims can obtain from the trucking company after an accident. Some of it may be useful as evidence and show how the employer or driver was negligent.
To avoid the destruction of this evidence, accident victims can produce and send a spoliation letter. The letter – which is often drafted by an attorney – can notify the company that a lawsuit or claim will be filed and outline certain types of evidence that should be preserved.
What is a spoliation letter?
Spoliation is the act of altering, hiding, withholding or destroying evidence. Since some of the most relevant documentation is in the hands of the trucking company, this is fairly easy to do.
But accident victims can avoid this scenario by sending a letter to the truck company, informing the employer that this evidence should be preserved. When an attorney puts the trucking company on notice by sending this letter, it has a legal obligation to abide by it.
What is contained in a spoliation of evidence letter?
Although the letter might refer to the preservation of relevant evidence, it’s best to include a list of specific documents or records that should be kept intact. By referring to detailed items, it eliminates the risk of misinterpretation and ensures that appropriate evidence is not destroyed.
Examples of evidence that might be listed in a spoliation letter pertaining to a truck accident includes:
- insurance policy;
- digital communications (such as email or voicemail);
- internet history files;
- electronic data (such as an automatic onboard recording device);
- driver’s logbook;
- personnel file on the truck driver; and
- inspection, maintenance and repair reports.
Who should be sent a letter of spoliation and when should it go out?
Generally, the trucking company will receive a spoliation letter, as it may be in possession of most of the pertinent documentation and records. But depending on the case, there may be others who are potentially liable as well.
For instance, if it’s believed that a loading problem was the cause of an accident or at least contributed to it, then the shipping company may receive a letter. Or if another company is responsible for the maintenance of the truck, it may have information that would be helpful to the case, so the attorney may send a letter to it.
Ideally the letter should go out as soon as possible. In fact, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney as soon as possible since there can be a lot of complex issues that arise in these types of cases. During a consultation, accident victims should go over the details of the accident and the types of evidence that a letter should request preserved by the trucking company or other parties.
For help drafting a spoliation of evidence letter and for legal representation throughout the legal process, contact D.J. Banovitz. We can analyze the details of the case to determine the necessary steps to take in order to preserve evidence.