Trucking company records are often crucial to support a truck accident victim’s case. Records can be used as evidence to prove that the truck driver or company was negligent or faulty in some manner. If the records are destroyed, the victim’s case might lose credibility.
The agency that regulates trucking companies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA,) provides specific recordkeeping requirements in the Federal Code of Regulations. Federal law dictates a trucking company's rights to destroy evidence after a specific period of time. Trucking companies will face penalties and sanctions if they don’t abide by the rules. Possible penalties don’t always deter companies, though.
FMCSA Recordkeeping Requirements
The FMCSA requires truck drivers and companies to keep detailed records of numerous parts of their operation, including a logbook of working hours, maintenance records, and proof of credentials.
For each type of record required, the FMCSA stipulates how long the company must retain the records, below are a few examples.
- Driving logs: Must be kept for six months.
- Inspection and maintenance records: Must be kept the entire duration of ownership and for 18 months after the vehicle leaves the company’s control.
- Drugs and alcohol education records: Must be kept for two years after the driver stops working for the company.
- Accident reports: Must be kept for three years.
- Safety performance history of driver: Must be kept throughout the driver’s employment, plus an additional three years.
Why Trucking Records are So Instrumental
Truck accident cases hinge on proving negligence. The truck driver or the company must be at fault or negligent in some manner in order to be liable for the victim’s damages. Trucking records can help demonstrate negligence in some cases.
A truck driver log book, for instance, can reveal that the trucker had been driving too many hours consecutively without a break or too many hours in a 24-hour period. Likewise, maintenance records may reveal a lack of required inspections or a failure to amend a known flaw. Also, a truck driver’s training and driving history can demonstrate incompetencies. All of these trucking violations can support the victim’s claim.
Preventing Companies from Destroying Evidence
Unfortunately, some trucking companies may destroy records in order to avoid liability for an accident. If you or a loved one was injured by a truck, it’s imperative to take the steps necessary to preserve the evidence. When victims don’t take swift action, trucking company records often go “missing.”
The first step is to call a truck accident lawyer to draft what’s referred to as a letter of spoliation. This is essentially a letter that will be sent to the truck company to inform management that they are to preserve specific records because they might be used for legal purposes. At this point, the company will be required by law to preserve the records.
Get Help from a Reputable Truck Accident Attorney in Clarksburg
To get a move on your claim and ensure that valuable evidence isn’t destroyed, contact our truck accident attorneys at the Miley Legal Group at 304-931-4088 for a free consultation. We can review your case, go over your options, and then if we are the right fit for you, we can send the company a letter of spoliation to preserve important records.
You might also want to review some of our videos about truck accidents. If You've Been Injured In A Tractor Trailer Accident, You Need An Experienced Attorney and The Miley Legal Group Knows the Rules and Regulations Trucking Companies Need to Follow provide brief glimpses into important issues for truck accident victims.