Commercial truck accidents can be devastating for those involved. It is critical for investigations to be conducted in order to determine liability and pay compensation to victims. In general, we will find that there is a significant amount of evidence that will be obtained when working to determine how a commercial truck accident occurred. However, it is not uncommon for the evidence and these situations to be altered, discarded, or even manipulated by other parties. Here, we want to discuss the process that parties can go through in California to preserve evidence in the aftermath of a truck accident. In particular, we want to discuss a letter of spoliation and how this can help ensure that evidence remains intact during the course of an investigation.
What is a Letter of Spoliation in California?
As soon as an attorney gets involved in a truck accident claim in California, one of the first steps they will take will be to secure any evidence that could be used to determine liability. This will include sending a letter of spoliation to all parties involved in the truck crash. This letter will put the parties on notice that there is a potential civil claim and remind them they have a duty not to destroy any evidence related to the potential claim.
When we look at California Civil Jury Instructions 204 “Willful Suppression of Evidence” (CACI 204), we can see that a jury in any personal injury trial is able to infer that any evidence destroyed or lost was detrimental to the plaintiff, and they are allowed to use that inference for the benefit of the victim. Looking further, when we turn to Evidence Code 413, we can see that a potential personal injury juror is allowed to draw whatever inferences they want regarding why various types of evidence were not provided by the defendant or why the defendant may be unable to explain what happened to the evidence.
Why Do You Need a Spoliation Letter After a California Truck Crash?
The aftermath of a truck accident in California can become incredibly complicated for those involved. In general, we will find that there is significantly more evidence that has to be gathered and preserved after a truck crash than there is an accident involving traditional vehicles. For a semi-truck crash in California, some of the evidence that needs to be gathered includes the following:
- The truck’s electronic logging device (ELD)
- Paper logbooks
- The truck’s electronic control module (ECM)
- The driver’s mobile phone data
- Truck company dispatch records
- Maintenance records
- Accident reports
- Truck company employment records
- Truck company safety records
- The driver’s safety records
- Any video or audio recordings of the crash
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Any debris from the scene
- The vehicles involved
A letter of spoliation in California does not have to get into the exact details of what types of evidence need to be preserved. However, the letter does need to get the point across that the injury victim and their attorney fully expect all evidence to be preserved until after an investigation has been conducted, and a civil claim is either completed or passed on.
Who Sends a Letter of Spoliation?
After a semi-truck truck crash occurs, it is crucial for victims to work with their California truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will be responsible for sending a letter of spoliation to all parties involved. An attorney will also be responsible for handling every aspect of the crash on behalf of the injury victim.