It is the trucking company’s right to destroy certain truck driver records after a specified period of time. One of the ways to help prevent this from happening after a truck accident is by having an attorney send a spoliation letter, which advises the company that all pertinent documentation must be preserved, maintained and protected.
Preserving the Record of Duty Status
One of the most important pieces of evidence that could be useful in establishing fault is the driver’s record of duty status. The information recorded by the driver includes his/her time on and off duty, use of the sleeper berth and the amount of time actually spent driving.
Regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require that the trucking company maintain the records of duty status and any supporting documents for at least six months. The spoliation letter can inform the trucking company that it is required to preserve these records, as they are relevant to the truck accident claim.
Other Documents Important to a Truck Accident Case
Depending on the cause of the crash or any suspicions raised concerning other types of negligence that may have been contributing factors in the accident, there could be other records that would be valuable. Another example is the driver qualification files, which are kept with the driver’s personnel file.
Information from the qualification file includes motor vehicle record, application for employment, annual review of driving record, certification of violations, medical examiner’s certificate and more. One of the issues that might be called into question is whether or not the truck driver was qualified to operate a big rig in the first place.
Numerous other types of records are maintained by the trucking company, not only in regards to their drivers but the vehicles as well. To ensure their protection, an attorney may decide to send a spoliation letter.
How a Spoliation Letter Can Protect Truck Driver Records after an Accident
Since the preservation of evidence is critical after a crash, it’s important to talk with an attorney as soon as possible. This will allow time to discuss the case and the attorney to send a spoliation letter to the company outlining records that should be preserved.
Its best to provide detailed information of the types of documentation, records and paperwork that is to be kept. The letter should stipulate that evidence isn’t to be destroyed, erased, altered or otherwise manipulated and should put the company on notice that additional damages could be sought if they fail to adhere to the request.
The sooner an attorney gets the records, the quicker a case can be built. Truck accidents offer greater potential to obtain evidence compared to other kinds of crashes because of the availability of the truck company’s records. It’s critical to take full advantage of this.
For help with a claim, contact an attorney today. The law firm of Walker, Billingsley & Bair can assist clients wishing to collect all relevant documentation and to ensure all records are preserved.