When a tractor-trailer causes a wreck and injures or kills someone, incriminating evidence has a way of quickly “disappearing.” If a tractor-trailer company destroys evidence after a wreck, the judge can sanction the company for “spoliation of evidence,” which means destroying evidence. Our firm recently won a court order sanctioning a trucking company for destroying evidence after a wreck that injured our clients.
Our clients were injured in a March 2012 wreck with a tractor-trailer. They retained our firm shortly after the wreck and we sent a letter to the tractor-trailer company and their insurance company requesting that they preserve evidence relating to the wreck. These letters are called “spoliation letters” and let the trucking company know that if they destroy or fail to preserve the evidence requested in the letter that we will seek sanctions against them for spoliation of evidence.
The spoliation letter specifically requested that the trucking company preserve the driver’s logbooks, which show how many hours the tractor-trailer driver had been driving the day and week of the accident. These logbooks are the best evidence of whether the driver was following or violating the safety regulations that govern how many hours tractor-trailer drivers are allowed to drive.
We filed a lawsuit against the trucking company and requested that they produce the driver’s logbooks to us. When the trucking company did not do so, we deposed the trucking company’s safety director. He testified that even though the trucking company received the spoliation letter and initially did preserve the logbooks, they were destroyed about six months later. We then filed a motion for sanctions for spoliation of evidence against the trucking company and the judge granted our motion, finding that the trucking company destroyed evidence. The judge is reserving her ruling until trial on what sanctions she will issue against the trucking company. Trial is scheduled for this summer and we’ll keep you posted.