What Does a Spoliation Letter Do in a Truck Accident Case?

When you’re involved in a vehicle collision with another driver, you expect the insurance companies (both yours and that of the other driver) to handle the claim properly. And, if the police were involved, you expect a police report to give the facts of the case and prove you weren’t at fault.

But what happens if evidence (such as photos, video, or witness statements) or even the other person’s vehicle, suddenly disappears?

Or, what if you or your lawyer believe that the at-fault driver, their lawyer, insurance company, or anyone else involved in the case, may destroy or tamper with evidence?

That’s when your lawyer formulates what’s called a spoliation letter to give to the defendant and/or their legal counsel. So, what exactly does a spoliation letter do in a truck accident case? We’ll explain all the details of the importance of a spoliation letter and how it can help your case in this blog.

What Is a Spoliation Letter?

A spoliation letter, also called a preservation letter, preservation of evidence letter, or evidence preservation letter, is pretty much what it sounds like, a letter to preserve evidence. Its basic purpose is to ensure the following:

  • Evidence is not tampered with
  • Evidence is not auto-wiped
  • Evidence is not intentionally destroyed
  • Evidence is actively saved and protected

Your attorney will know the purpose and importance of a spoliation letter and if one is necessary for your truck accident claim.

Your next question might be, what type of evidence does such a letter protect? Is it all evidence, or just certain things?

The quick answer is that it depends on the case and what your lawyer thinks may be key evidence or a hot issue. For vehicle crashes, such as a truck accident, the evidence your attorney will want to be preserved might be:

  • Any pictures taken of the collision scene
  • Any pictures taken of the vehicles involved in the collision
  • Any recorded or written statements given to anyone concerning the collision
  • Any information exchange or police report related to the collision
  • Any damage reports for any vehicles involved in the collision
  • Any repair estimates for any vehicles involved in the collision
  • Any photos taken of driver’s licenses, vehicle registration cards, people, or any other item or thing relating to the collision

Specific Requests in Your Letter

The more specific your evidence request letter can be, the better chance you have of winning your claim. In the case of a truck accident, your lawyer could specifically request the trucking company preserve:

  • The truck driver’s personnel file, along with their medical file
  • All data from the truck’s “black box” (the electronic control monitor)
  • All freight information for the load being hauled at the time of the crash
  • Maintenance records
  • Inspection records
  • Repair records

All trucks are required to go through rigorous maintenance to uphold state and federal regulations before they are allowed to travel and carry loads on our roadways, and all drivers are required to pass drug screening and stay in good health, so having access to this documentation may prove to be key in your case.

Time Is of The Essence

Unfortunately, even if a truck driver or mechanic means well, they may unintentionally destroy evidence.

Without having a letter legally obligating them to preserve the evidence and outlining the specific items to preserve, they may not understand how important any tiny piece of information might be.

Your attorney must send a preservation of evidence letter to the at-fault driver or their legal team as soon as possible to ensure you’re given access to evidence before something happens to it. Not only are there state laws regarding truck accident cases in general but the sooner your lawyer sends that letter, the sooner you can have the necessary evidence to prove your case.

If any evidence is destroyed after the at-fault party has received the letter, purposefully or negligently, you could have grounds to pursue further action. Usually when this occurs, the following must be established:

  • A lawsuit was likely
  • The defendant had a duty to preserve evidence
  • Evidence was destroyed
  • The evidence that was destroyed was relevant to your claims against the defendant

Often these situations can be tricky and may turn into an argument of speculation or your word against theirs. Additionally, if you and your lawyer can prove that the tampering or destruction was intentional, you might be allowed to pursue punitive damages in addition to other damages you would receive.

How a Letter Can Help Your Case

All successful injury claims have to be backed by strong evidence. You need documentation to prove liability and establish damages, without it, you may not be able to properly pursue your case against the person responsible. This applies to truck accident cases, just like any other.

Often, in truck accidents, the driver, their employer, the trucking company, or their attorneys may try to sweep your case under the rug or even attempt to destroy evidence.

Having your attorney write and send a spoliation letter to the at-fault party as soon as possible not only legally protects evidence but can be vital to the success of your case.

As you probably understand now based on the information we’ve provided in this blog, these letters of preservation can make or break your case. By creating that letter and sending it to the truck driver who hit you, your lawyer is giving themselves and you access to all evidence requested in that letter and you’ll have a much greater chance at bringing them to justice.

Any accident or incident can become complicated quickly, and even though there is an assumed obligation in any kind of litigation to preserve evidence, it doesn’t always happen.

If you are pursuing legal action against a truck driver who hit you, our attorneys at Trucking Injury Law Group are here to help.