Spoliation of evidence: In North Carolina, the law requires a truck company and its insurance company to preserve any document and/or data that might reasonably be evidence in your case. In today’s electronic age, this means that there is a lot of electronic data to preserve in each case. Many times, truck companies and/or their insurers negligently or carelessly discard and/or destroy potentially valuable evidence. In almost all tractor-trailer accidents, the truck engine has a specialized computer mounted to its engine called a “black box” or “electronic control module (ECM).” These electronic devices are the brains of the truck, and they can record and store critically important data from before, during and after a crash. Things such as truck speed immediately prior to the collision, accelerator position, brake pedal position and engine RPMs are just a few of the categories that are commonly recorded. This electronic data is extremely important to your accident reconstruction expert in trying to mathematically reconstruct how the accident happened. Without this electronic data, the truck insurance company may point its finger back at you and criticize your conduct prior to the accident and deny your claim. Many truck computers are programmed to erase all of this electronic data once the truck travels a predetermined number of miles (e.g., the truck travels 100 miles after a recordable event).
Therefore, in a trucking case, your interstate truck litigation attorney must act quickly to put the truck company and its insurance company on notice of your claim. This should be done with what is called a “spoliation letter.” This is a special letter to the officers and safety managers at the truck company, as well as the adjuster handling your claim at the truck insurance company, advising them of their duty to not drive the truck and to preserve specific evidence. At Davis Law Group, our typical spoliation letter is five pages long and sets out about 20 types of data that must be preserved. If the truck company or its insurer fails to preserve the electronic evidence after being put on notice, it can be subject to judicial sanctions and penalties.