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If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, the aftermath is more complicated than it would be if you had been in an accident with another non-commercial passenger car. There are special laws and regulations that trucking companies and truck drivers must comply with and they change the way injury or damage claims have to be handled. One of the most obvious differences is that when it comes to trying to recover compensation for damages and injuries, you’ll be dealing with a (most likely large) company and not just another driver and his or her insurance company.
A major part of the process for recovering any damages after a truck accident will be obtaining records and documents from the trucking company about the truck, the driver, the cargo, and other details. This whole process usually starts with sending out a preservation of evidence letter—which you might also see referred to as a litigation hold letter or a spoliation letter—to the trucking company after the accident.
A preservation of evidence or a litigation hold letter is a written directive sent out to tell a company, or custodian of records within a company, to preserve any records that may be relevant to litigation that is either in process or anticipated in the future.
For example, if you were to send a preservation of evidence letter after a truck accident, you would send a formal letter to the trucking company telling them that they must preserve records such as truck schedules, driver records, emails, driver logs, truck maintenance logs, or anything else that could be relevant to your accident.
Information that you might need to file an injury or damage claim against the trucking company after a truck accident can come in many forms. Some things might be handwritten in a book or ledger, others might be stored electronically in databases or email systems. The intent behind this type of letter is not to prevent a company from purposely destroying information related to your case (although it can help with that as well), but companies routinely destroy old information to make room for new records.
The purpose behind the letter is to make sure that the evidence needed for your case doesn’t get lost through either purposeful destruction or just routine maintenance. In many cases, a litigation hold letter is also used to make sure that information is kept in its original form.
For example, in court, an original document and a copy are not the same things. A handwritten page in a book and a scan of that page stored in a database is completely different in the eyes of the courts. Going in the opposite direction, an email and a printout of an email are different as well. The majority of the time, evidence will need to be in its original form for the courts to legally consider it as part of your case.
So, to put it all together, this type of letter is used to make sure that specific evidence is not destroyed for any reason and that it is maintained in its original form. This provides the highest chance that the evidence will hold up legally if your case goes to court.
Yes, you can legally write a preservation of evidence letter yourself. What you have to consider, however, is that the letter must be specific about what kind(s) of evidence and records must be protected as well as how they should be stored. If you make a mistake by specifying the wrong kind of records or omitting something important, it could mean the loss of information and evidence that would be critical for your case.
It’s always best to consult with an experienced attorney and have them write this type of letter for you. An experienced truck accident lawyer will know what specific information and records will be important and make sure that everything is covered in the letter so that you don’t run into any nasty surprises later.
Here is an example Preservation of Evidence and Spoliation Notice Letter.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident and have questions about the preservation of evidence letters, personal injury claims, or any other part of the litigation process, DuBoff & Associates can help.