Evidence Spoliation Issues in Truck Crashes
Our Georgia Truck Accident Attorneys Explain The Importance Of Quick Action
After a truck wreck in Georgia, gathering and preserving evidence is a crucial step in protecting your right to compensation. In this regard, truck crash victims are at an inherent disadvantage; the trucking company usually has some of the most important evidence already. This may include the driver’s records, inspection and maintenance reports, and more. Additionally, the trucking company, along with its attorneys and insurance representatives, can usually visit the crash scene within hours to collect the driver’s logbook, black box data and the damaged truck. Companies may only keep this information for a short period of time and may repair the vehicle quickly, eliminating important evidence.
However, our Georgia truck accident attorneys can take steps to prevent loss or spoliation of evidence, protecting your personal injury lawsuit. While you concentrate on recovering, we can visit the crash site and impose a duty to preserve evidence on the trucking company. This will keep important information safe to use in a personal injury claim. For this reason, it is important to contact our law firm as soon as possible after a Georgia truck crash.
What Important Evidence May Be Lost After a Truck Wreck?
Depending on the circumstances of your truck wreck, you likely only have a short period of time before essential evidence is lost or destroyed. The most important and easily lost evidence includes:
- Driver logbooks. Commercial truck drivers must keep a log of the time they spend on the road to show compliance with commercial truck laws that limit hours of service. Companies may only keep these logs for a short time. The driver and/or the trucking company may even try to alter or destroy such records to avoid liability.
- Black box data. Most commercial trucks have electronic data recorders that log speed and other information from a crash. This data may be erased, overwritten or otherwise lost quickly, especially if the truck is sold or extensively repaired.
- Inspection records. Drivers must perform daily inspections of their vehicles, but records of these checks are easily misplaced or destroyed.
- Maintenance records. Commercial truck laws only require companies to keep records from maintenance and repairs for one year. However, if the company sells the truck, then the owners must keep records for only six months.
- Driver’s drug and alcohol tests. Trucking companies must keep drug and alcohol tests of their drivers for up to five years. Still, some companies do not always comply.
- Vehicle damage. The trucking company will likely repair its truck as soon as possible, to get it back on the road. This process may irretrievably destroy valuable evidence.
Many businesses may routinely destroy old documents to save space, meaning that you may only have a few months to obtain this important information. The sooner you call an attorney, the better the chance of preserving this evidence.
How Can an Attorney Prevent Spoliation of Evidence?
To prevent loss of evidence after a wreck, your attorney will send a “duty to preserve” letter to the liable parties. This letter informs the trucking company and other potential defendants that you intend to file a claim and also informs the owners that they must take all necessary steps to preserve relevant information. This commonly refers to important paperwork, and the duty may extend to any necessary physical evidence as well, such as the truck itself.
Spoliation of evidence occurs if the trucking company loses or alters important documents and other information, intentionally or otherwise, after receiving a duty to preserve letter. In some cases, companies may willfully destroy evidence to weaken your case. In other cases, documents may be misplaced or unintentionally overwritten.
Regardless, if spoliation of evidence occurs, then you and your Georgia truck accident attorneys may still file a lawsuit. In lieu of actual evidence, the court may inform the jury that spoliation occurred and that the lost evidence would have helped prove your case. The liable party may face additional legal repercussions as well, like fines and sanctions.
Hurt in a Truck Wreck? Call Our Georgia Truck Accident Attorneys as Soon as Possible
If a truck crash caused harm to you or a loved one, then contact the Georgia truck accident attorneys at McArthur Law Firm today. We take all necessary measures to preserve crucial evidence, including evidence held by the trucking company. If spoliation of evidence occurs, then we will fight to ensure the court takes this into account.