A commercial trucking company needs to preserve hours of service records for a period of only six months. After this time period is over, per the trucking company’s rights, it may destroy the records. A driver qualification, meanwhile, must be kept as long as the driver is employed and then three years thereafter.
A spoliation letter can be sent to the company by an attorney to prevent the company from destroying truck driver records and any other documents or evidence relevant to an upcoming or ongoing truck accident claim or lawsuit.
A truck accident victim may file a claim for damages if the accident was caused by a truck driver. In case the truck is owned by a commercial trucking company, then apart from the truck driver, the owner of the company may be held responsible for the accident. Thus it is not hard to understand why it is in the interests of the company to destroy the evidence to protect its reputation and avoid a costly lawsuit.
Truck Driver Records That Could Be Used in a Truck Accident Claim
A huge volume of evidence is usually available in the event of a truck accident and the truck driver’s records provide some of the most crucial pieces of evidence:
- medical records that indicate whether the driver was fit to drive;
- cell phone records that indicate if the driver was on the phone;
- qualification file that indicates if the driver was qualified to operate a truck;
- employment history; and
- driving history of the at-fault driver that includes a list of driving violations.
The “Black Box” after a Truck Accident
The “black box” recorder in the truck can prove to be valuable pieces of evidence in a truck accident case. This includes logs of whether the truck driver was operating beyond the limits of “hours of service” regulations and was fatigued.
Drivers are limited in the time they can spend behind the wheel and on duty. For instance, drivers of property-carrying vehicles cannot drive more than one hour after 10 consecutive hours off duty (or 10 hours after eight hours off duty for passenger-carrying drivers), and cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive on-duty hour (15th consecutive on-duty hour for passenger-carrying vehicles).
There are several other provisions that truck drivers must follow, and this information must be kept in the driver’s ‘black box’ or log books. Information of the last seven days must be kept onboard by the driver, and, as mentioned, employers must keep it for at least six months. But an accident claim often extends beyond this period, which is why sending a spoliation letter to preserve these and other records is so important.
Contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair for Help
It is thus imperative that truck accident victims contact a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in the federal trucking laws. In addition to ensuring that the trucking company does not destroy evidence victims must also preserve medical bills and all receipts that specify the repair and replacement costs of the vehicle damaged in the accident.
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident and wish to pursue legal action, give Walker, Billingsley, & Bair a call. Contact us at (641) 792-3595 to schedule your consultation with an attorney in Des Moines.