In a commercial truck accident in San Diego or Southern California, you could suffer life-altering injuries that affect your ability to work and your quality of life. If you want to win your case and obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries, you will need to prove that the trucker or trucking company’s negligence caused your collision.
One way to establish this is to send the trucking company a spoliation letter. You should hire an experienced truck accident lawyer to send this letter for you.
What Is a Spoliation Letter?
You will need evidence to prove your right to compensation for your injuries. Truck accidents are different from auto crash claims, and their causes are more complicated to determine. In addition, more liable parties could be responsible for causing your collision.
Unfortunately, some of the documents and evidence you may need will be in the possession of the trucking company. They will likely be unwilling to turn this information over to you voluntarily.
That is why it is crucial to have your attorney send a spoliation letter as soon as possible after your wreck. This letter is a legal document sent to the trucking company and their insurance company notifying them of your claim for compensation and warning them not to destroy or tamper with evidence that can help you win your case.
What Documents Should Be Requested in a Spoliation Letter?
Many types of evidence are vital to collect after a truck collision. The trucking company is required to maintain some of the documents you will need under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Information that your lawyer might request in a spoliation letter includes:
- Pictures and videos that were taken at the crash scene
- Truck driver’s logbook showing when they took rest breaks required under federal hours of service regulations
- Black box data
- Dashcam video
- Truck inspection, maintenance, and repair records
- Trucker’s receipts while transporting their load
- Truck driver’s cellphone records
- Trucker’s personnel file
- Trucking company dispatch logs
- Emails and texts between the trucker and the trucking company
- Trucking company’s safety reports
- Trucker’s alcohol and drug test results
- Loading documents
- Trucking company manuals, procedures, and policies
- The truck involved in the wreck for an inspection
How Soon After a Truck Accident Should a Spoliation Letter Be Sent?
You should retain a skilled truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your collision to send the trucking company and their insurance company a spoliation letter. Unfortunately, they could alter or destroy crucial evidence—intentionally or unintentionally—if you do not immediately send them this letter.
Do You Have to Hire an Attorney to Send a Spoliation Letter?
While you could send the trucking company a spoliation letter, this would not be a wise strategy if you want to obtain the justice and damages you are entitled to under California law. Knowing all the documents you should request or how to review them to prove your case is difficult. In addition, the trucking company and their insurance company are less likely to provide you with the information requested in your spoliation letter if you are unrepresented.
What Happens if the Trucking Company Destroys Evidence After a Spoliation Letter Is Sent?
The trucking company could face severe consequences if they destroy or alter evidence after receiving a spoliation letter. Your attorney could file an immediate lawsuit on your behalf. They could also request that the judge issue an immediate temporary restraining order without any hearing to prevent the trucking company from tampering with or destroying evidence until the judge can decide the issue at a court hearing.
The judge could also penalize the trucking company for destroying or altering documents. They could assess the costs and attorney fees the trucking company must pay. The judge might rule that there is a presumption that the destroyed evidence contained information helpful to your case. This can make it easier for you to prove the trucking company’s and trucker’s negligence in causing the truck accident and to negotiate the maximum recovery in your settlement with their insurance company.