There is, as well, more evidence available to prove the liability of the at-fault parties in a truck wreck than you would find in a two-car crash. Unfortunately, most of that evidence is in the possession of the trucking company, which has every reason to withhold or destroy it to keep you from proving liability and filing a successful damage claim that will cost the company a lot of money. Your lawyer will know what steps to take in order to preserve and obtain such evidence.
Important Evidence in a Semi-Truck Crash
Trucking companies have a great deal of information that can be very helpful in proving the fault of the party or parties responsible for your accident, including:
Physical damage to the truck that hit you can provide strong evidence of liability. For this reason, the truck should be towed to a lot and left in its post-crash condition to preserve evidence. It should not be repaired quickly and returned to service.
Modern semi-trucks have on-board computers that store data, including the speeds at which the truck was driven, braking patterns, time on the road, and GPS coordinates.
Dash camera footage.
If the truck has a dash camera, it could have footage of the accident taking place.
The driver’s logs should show whether the driver complied with FMCSA rules, including the number of consecutive hours a driver may travel without a rest break.
These records could show whether the driver has a clean driving record or a history of violations.
The trucking company’s safety records.
These might work in your favor if the company has a history of accidents.
Drug and alcohol test results.
The driver should be tested for substance use after the crash. If the test results show the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will be very helpful to your claim.
Maintenance and inspection records.
Records showing the truck did not receive proper and timely maintenance could work in your favor.
Bills of lading.
These show what cargo was being transported by the truck and could be used to prove it was overweight, which would make it harder to control.
Your attorney has the right to access all of this information on your behalf, but the first step in the process is to be sure the evidence is not lost or destroyed by the trucking company.
What Is a Spoliation Letter?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires a trucking company to preserve and retain all evidence related to any damage claim against it for six months from the time the company receives notice of the claim. Your attorney will provide the company and its insurer such notice in the form of a spoliation letter, which demands that the company preserve any relevant documents and other evidence pertaining to your claim and make that evidence available to you, the plaintiff in the case.
After the company receives this notice, it may not legally destroy or withhold any evidence relevant to your claim. Doing so is not only a violation of FMCSA regulations; it is also a felony punishable by fines and possible incarceration of responsible parties. This is the reason you should consult a lawyer immediately after your accident—so that the spoliation letter can be sent before the company has a chance to destroy evidence that’s vital to your claim. If it does not comply and your case should go to trial, proof that the company destroyed relevant evidence is likely to work in your favor. The spoliation letter should include:
- The date, time, and location of the crash
- The truck’s license plate number.
- A detailed list of evidence that should be preserved.
- A clear demand that the company not lose, destroy, or tamper with any such evidence.
It’s also important to insist that the evidence be turned over in a timely fashion, so the company cannot drag the proceedings out past the six-month limit and then destroy the evidence legally.
Have You Been Injured In A Florence, South Carolina Area Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Florence truck accident you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Florence, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.