How Trucking Companies Try to Suppress Evidence
All interstate trucking companies are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA requires that trucking companies retain certain documents in case they are audited by the Department of Transportation or involved in an accident. FMCSA guidance mandates that companies preserve:
- Driver logbooks
- Driver drug and alcohol test results
- Driver medical records, including annual physical examinations
- Specified phone records
- Cargo tenders and load contracts
- Individual drivers’ daily, pre-trip, and post-trip inspection reports
- Vehicle inspection information and results
- Maintenance records
While making sense of a trucking company’s records might seem difficult, it could be key to proving your personal injury or wrongful death case. Trucking companies know they stand to lose a lot of money if your case is successful—their insurance rates could rise drastically, or they may have to pay out of pocket for damages. Trucking companies will sometimes try to prevent injured people and their attorneys from gathering critical evidence by:
- Misplacing records
- Taking too long to respond to document requests
- Storing personnel and maintenance files in off-site, hard-to-reach warehouses
- Destroying records they are no longer legally required to keep, but that could be relevant to your case
- Falsifying vehicle inspection and repair logs
Preservation of Evidence Letters
If you were involved in a truck accident, you should always contact a Missouri commercial vehicle accident injury attorney as soon as possible.
Your lawyer will issue a preservation of evidence letter—sometimes called a “spoliation letter”—to the trucking company. A spoliation letter is a legal notice that forbids the business from destroying evidence that could be relevant to your claim.
Why Evidence Matters
If you were involved in a trucking accident that was not your fault, you could take legal action to recover damages for:
- Your unpaid hospital bills
- Physical rehabilitation
- Prescription medication
- Lost income
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Property damage
While Missouri does not currently cap the amount of damages an injured person can claim after a truck accident, the courts still expect victims to prove that:
- The trucking company owed a legal duty of care to the victim;
- The trucking company’s negligence led it to breach its legal duty of care; and
- The trucking company’s negligence caused serious physical injuries.
Even if you think your case is open-and-shut, trucking companies—and their insurers—have a lot of experience fighting personal injury and wrongful death claims.
If you do not have an attorney to issue a letter of spoliation, the trucking company could begin destroying evidence that is essential to your claim. They may also refuse to cooperate with requests for maintenance and personnel records or tell you that their low-ball settlement offer is non-negotiable.
When you are going up against America’s $800 billion trucking industry, you deserve experienced and competent counsel.