Motor Carrier’s Right to Destroy Evidence after Truck Accident

The Texas Department of Transportation reports there were 379 serious injury crashes involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in Dallas County in 2012. Accident victims likely wish to pursue compensation for the damages they suffered if the trucker was to blame for the accident.

To do so, they must present evidence of fault and negligence. But motor carriers may destroy certain types of evidence after a specified time period. Accident victims need to act quickly to preserve this evidence.

Evidence that a Truck Company May Destroy

There are certain records that trucking companies are only required to maintain for a limited period of time under federal regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates many aspects of the trucking industry and dictates how long companies must keep these records.

For example, a trucking company must keep a driver’s hours-of-service logbook for six months after receiving those records from the driver. Trucking companies are also required to keep driver vehicle inspection reports and certification of vehicle repairs and driver reviews for three months. These records can be crucial in establishing inspections or repairs that were in violation of regulations.

Truck companies are also required to keep records of the driver’s failed drug and alcohol test for five years. Like the other records, these can establish a pattern of negligent behavior by the driver or that a defect in the truck caused the accident. Some records must be maintained by the trucking company until the driver leaves their employment.

Motor carriers must maintain a driver personnel file that includes: 

  • Credentials;
  • Road test certificates; and
  • Application for employment. 

They must maintain these files for three years after they terminate the driver’s employment.

Send a Spoliation Letter to Prevent Evidence from Being Destroyed

If a victim hires an attorney, the attorney can send a spoliation letter to the trucking company that prevents it from destroying evidence after the accident.

The letter may specify certain records that the company must maintain, such as the: 

  • Hours-of-service records;
  • The driver’s qualification file;
  • Any drug or alcohol testing results; and
  • The truck itself. 

This letter announces that the records may be used in a legal proceeding and supersedes the federal regulations governing records maintenance. Thus, trucking companies must maintain the records even after the time period during which they maintain them has expired.

Sometimes trucking companies violate spoliation letters and destroy evidence anyway. They may believe that this is the best way to avoid liability. If a trucking company destroys evidence after receiving a spoliation letter, it could face penalties.

Julie Johnson Helps Dallas Truck Accident Victims

Victims of serious truck accidents should immediately contact an attorney for help with their case. An attorney can help prevent evidence from being destroyed and sort out fault and liability. Your lawyer can also review the types of evidence that you should aim to collect and preserve, and then review and organize it for presentation in your case.

The Law Office of Julie Johnson represents victims of serious accidents in and around Dallas, so contact our office at 214-290-8001 or visit our contact page today to set up a consultation so you can get started on your case.

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