What is a spoliation letter?

A spoliation letter is a notice sent to an opposing party in an accident requesting it preserve all relevant evidence. It may even mention specific evidence to preserve, such as a vehicle involved in an auto accident. This is commonly used in truck accident claims since the trucking company has access to a variety of records, documentation, and information that is helpful in establishing fault.

Primary Purposes of a Spoliation Letter: Prevent Destruction of Evidence

Most letters specifically warn against the:

  • Tampering;
  • Hiding; or
  • Destruction of evidence.

During the discovery phase of a case, when evidence is gathered, a number of items may be requested. This depends on the specifics of the accident.

For instance, if there is a question as to whether a truck driver had violated the hours-of-service rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a trucking company might erase the data on a truck’s electronic recording device or in the driver’s logbooks after six months, or it may attempt to modify the information.

Primary Purposes of a Spoliation Letter: List Specific Types of Evidence

Another purpose of a spoliation letter is to list specific items that are to be preserved:

  • Voicemails;
  • Personnel records;
  • Zip files; and
  • Backup discs.

The items might be requested as either originals or copies. Generally the more effectively this letter addresses what the recipient must retain or preserve, the greater the chance the opposing side will be punished if it destroys the evidence. It can play a significant role in a court case to determine if the other party acted in good faith with regard to the preservation of evidence.

When Evidence Must Be Preserved

A letter of spoliation can certainly play an important role in a truck accident case. But keep in mind that the duty to preserve proof starts long before a letter is constructed. At any point someone knows that certain evidence could be relevant in litigation, it must be kept intact.

Let’s say a serious collision occurs on Interstate 30 in Dallas. The truck driver states that he lost control of the semi when attempting to slow down and the brakes weren’t properly working.

The trucking company has a duty to preserve any evidence that could be relevant to this case like a truck:

  • Inspection records;
  • Maintenance reports; and
  • Repair records.

That’s because the question of the brakes working properly could be based on a failure to inspect or repair them. Not all truck accident cases will necessitate a spoliation letter. This depends on the circumstances, including potential causes of the crash and whether or not a driver or trucking company admits liability.

An attorney can help you determine when it’s a good idea to take this step to preserve evidence. Your attorney can also help you draft and send the spoliation letter to ensure it lists all relevant evidence. Talk to Julie Johnson if you’ve been injured in an accident in the Dallas area. Call 214-290-8001 or use our contact form to set up a consultation about your case and the types of evidence you might need.

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