Preserving Evidence in Commercial Vehicle Accidents
When you are hurt in an accident with a commercial vehicle, it’s normal for your mind to immediately think about a future legal claim. A collision can cost a great deal of money due to medical expenses, at-home care, and being away from work. The financial repercussions are much worse if you suffered a catastrophic or disabling injury. Your injuries and expenses are why it is necessary to work with a Chicago truck accident lawyer to bring an insurance claim or lawsuit against the responsible party. During the legal process, you will need evidence including paper documents, video footage, and electronic data to prove the at-fault party’s negligence and your right to compensation.
However, problems can arise when it comes to preserving all of this evidence. Most of the information and documents you need are from the other parties and you cannot control what that party does with it. That means you will have to work with an attorney to ensure the other business’s do not destroy or lose the evidence you need, and if they do, they will deal with the consequences for doing so.
Why You Need to Preserve Evidence
A personal injury claim after a truck accident can take months, and if you have to go to trial, it could take more than a year. That means the evidence you need has to still be present and in its original condition when it comes time prove your case. However, much of the evidence you will need, including documents and data from the trucking company, are not in your hands and instead are under the other party’s control.
That means you must ensure nothing happens to evidence that you or your attorney cannot keep safe. Without taking these steps, you could get to trial and find that crucial documents and electronic information are gone. This could cost you the case and the compensation you need to pay off bills and move forward with life.
The “Black Box”
You have probably heard of a black box in airplanes. Agencies will tirelessly search for them after an aviation accident because they know it will have at least some, if not all, of the answers they need. Commercial trucks have advanced to the point where they also have digital recorders, or black boxes, that gather a significant amount of data regarding the vehicle, driver behavior, and what led up to the crash.
Black box data may include:
- The vehicle’s speed
- Acceleration or deceleration
- Gear shifts
- Braking patterns
- GPS data
- Length of operation since the vehicle was last turned on
- Inspection reports
- Communications between the trucker and their employee
Some or all of this information could be essential to proving the negligence of someone else caused the accident and your injuries. You need to make sure that nothing happens to this black box and the data stored on it after a trucking accident.
Other Evidence You Need to Maintain
While the truck’s black box is important, there are also many other documents, footage, and data imperative to your case. Truckers and trucking companies are required to keep in-depth records regarding trips, inspections, vehicle maintenance, repairs, and tests. You should demand that all of these records be maintained throughout the case, even if the law allows the trucking company to dispose of them.
Trucking companies must also keep detailed employment records, which you and your attorney will need to learn more about the driver. These records will contain information regarding the trucker’s driving history, education, training, endorsements, and if there have been any positive drug or alcohol tests. Your attorney will also make sure that these do not somehow get lost during your case since they could be useful to prove the trucker’s negligence or the employer’s negligent hiring or retention.
Sending a Spoliation Letter
Once you begin working with a Chicago truck accident lawyer, your attorney will draft what is known as a spoliation letter. This letter will be sent to all potential defendants for your personal injury case and it will state that they are to maintain all evidence that could be material to your claim, even when they could lawfully destroy it. Your attorney may point out specific kinds of evidence, such as the black box, employment records, or maintenance records, or it could also be broad in order to ensure the safety of any evidence you might need in the future.
If the trucker, trucking company, or another party is set on destroying evidence, there is little you can do to stop them. However, you and your attorney can create a serious incentive for parties to preserve evidence through the spoliation letter. If, after receiving this letter, a party does not preserve evidence, they could face possible monetary sanctions, punitive damages, a higher settlement, or criminal charges.
How Our Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
Our knowledgeable attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. have years of experience handling truck accident claims and preserving evidence for our clients. We know how to identify potentially important records, call for their preservation, and seek damages if the evidence is lost.
If you were hurt in a trucking accident, contact our Chicago truck accident lawyers at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. for help in recovering compensation. We are here to help you seek the maximum recovery possible in your situation.
Call us today at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free consultation.