Spoliation of Evidence & Letter for Preservation of Evidence in Ohio Truck Accident

Truck with red cab on the road in motion. Visual for legal blog discussing the how to insure ensure evidence is preserved after an Ohio truck accident with a spoliation letter.

When a trucking accident causes catastrophic injuries, you must act quickly to preserve and collect information that could be used to prove your case. In fact, black box data and drivers logs need to be requested right away. Why? The federal regulations allow trucking companies to destroy driver’s logs 6 months after a crash, unless they are requested prior to that time - so a preservation of evidence letter from a skilled layer is really important.

Identifying and obtaining evidence after a truck accident can be difficult because most of the information belongs to the trucking company. Some data only needs to be stored for a specific amount of time before it can be recorded over or destroyed according to federal law and company records retention policies.

If you were injured in a truck accident, our experienced truck accident injury lawyers can act quickly to preserve evidence that could be crucial to proving who was at fault for causing the accident that resulted in your injuries. We can prepare and submit a “preservation of evidence letter,” which requires the trucking company and other defendants to preserve evidence that could be necessary to prove your case. Contact Robenalt Law today to schedule an appointment to discuss your case and how we can help.

What Is a Preservation of Evidence Letter?

A “preservation of evidence letter,” also known as a “spoliation letter,” is a written request sent by the injured person’s lawyer to the truck driver, trucking company, and other defendants asking that they preserve evidence that may be relevant to the injured person’s legal claim. Lawyers for injured victims often send spoliation letters asking defendants to preserve driver log books and vehicle inspection reports, as well as electronically stored information like “black box” data (also known as “event data recorders”), videos, information contained on electronic logging devices (ELDs), hours of service logs, and the GPS Trackit.

Once a potential defendant receives a spoliation letter, they are legally obligated to preserve the evidence identified in the letter and face penalties if they destroy it. To preserve crucial evidence that could be necessary to prove your case, we recommend sending a preservation of evidence letter as soon as possible, but for sure within six months of the crash.

Why Should I Send a Spoliation Letter?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules require that trucking companies maintain records regarding vehicle maintenance and driver hours. However, trucking companies can destroy these records once the legally mandated period expires, often as part of their document retention and destruction policies. This means the trucking company could destroy crucial evidence before you can request it as part of discovery in your truck accident injury case. To address this issue and prevent critical evidence from being destroyed, your lawyer can send a spoliation letter to potential defendants asking that they preserve all requested information until your lawsuit is resolved, regardless of how long it takes your case to proceed through court. The term spoliation means that if the evidence is requested and the trucking company doesn’t maintain the evidence, the Court can find that the evidence was not maintained intentionally and that the evidence has been spoliated. This finding by a Court can be very damaging to the defense position. In fact, a jury would be instructed that they can draw a “negative inference” that would indicate that the evidence would have been damaging to the trucking company and that it was destroyed to prevent disclosure of negative facts.

Key Evidence in a Truck Accident Injury Claim

Trucking accidents are more complicated than most car accidents involving passenger vehicles. Accidents involving commercial vehicles often have several parties involved in addition to the driver, and trucking companies often have teams of lawyers and considerable resources dedicated to limiting their legal exposure when a truck accident causes personal injuries.

To prove your case, you will likely need additional evidence beyond what is required in the typical automobile accident injury claim. Examples of additional information that is available and necessary to prove your truck accident injury claim include:

  • “Black box data” taken from an “event data recorder” that records information about the truck’s movement and performance in the days, hours, and minutes leading up to the accident. It can include information about vehicle speed, the truck’s GPS data, operating hours, and whether the brakes were applied.
  • “Hours of service” logs are a record of the hours a driver operated the vehicle during their shift and whether they took required breaks.
  • In-cab camera footage can record a driver’s habits, including how the operator drives on the road and whether they were weaving, following too closely, or displayed signs of distracted or drowsy driving.
  • Hiring, supervision, and training records can reveal information about the operator’s driving history, whether the trucking company conducted a proper background check and knew of any prior accidents the driver was involved in before hiring the driver, and any on-the-job training the driver received.
  • Maintenance records can show whether and when a truck was serviced and can be used to show that improper maintenance may have contributed to the crash.
  • Alcohol and drug test results can show whether a driver was under the influence at the time of the crash.
  • Cell phone records show whether the driver was texting or on the phone in the moments leading up to the crash.
  • Physical evidence can show how the crash occurred and why the truck driver was at fault. An accident reconstruction expert can re-create the accident using information obtained from the crash site.

Robenalt Law Fights for People Injured in Trucking Accidents

If you or a loved one was hurt in a trucking accident, you face the challenging task of proving who was at fault, and obtaining compensation for your injuries. To obtain the financial compensation you deserve, you may need to present a claim against the truck driver, the trucking company, and others who were involved in causing the accident that resulted in your injuries.

The truck accident injury lawyers at Robenalt Law can preserve important evidence by identifying and sending a preservation of evidence letter to all potential defendants. This information can be crucial to proving who was at fault for causing your injuries.

Our lawyers can evaluate your claim, explain your rights and legal options, and fight for the compensation you deserve. We will begin identifying and preserving crucial evidence immediately after your consultation, and consulting with experts which will increase the likelihood of obtaining a successful result. We will work to protect your rights and maximize your financial compensation.

To put our expertise to work for you, call (216) 223-7535 or contact Robenalt Law’s truck accident injury lawyers to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.