Why It’s Essential to Act Quickly After a Truck Accident
Time is of the essence when pursuing a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations for such actions in Georgia is two years, meaning that if the injured plaintiff does not file suit within two years from the date of their accident, they forfeit their right to do so. But Georgia’s statute of limitations is not the only reason why plaintiffs in truck accident cases should act quickly. Dragging your feet after a truck accident — even if you are within the statute of limitations — can result in the destruction of critical evidence in your case. A Tifton truck accident attorney can help you prevent such an undesirable outcome.
Record Retention in Truck Accident Cases
The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA requires trucking companies to maintain extensive records and documentation of their operations, including the maintenance of their vehicles, the qualifications of their employees, the hours worked by their drivers, and much more. However, trucking companies are not required to keep these records forever. Some examples include:
- Daily pre- and post-trip inspection reports: Daily inspections of a vehicle by the vehicle’s driver. These must be retained for three months.
- Maintenance and repair reports: Routine reports of vehicle maintenance and repair. These must be retained for 12 months.
- Periodic inspection reports: Annual inspections by a qualified inspector. These must be retained for 14 months.
- Drivers’ logs: Truck drivers must comply with hours of service rules, which prohibit them from driving more than a certain number of hours without a break. They are also required to maintain a log of their hours of operation. Those logs must be retained for six months.
- Hours of service supporting documents: Documents that support the driver’s log, such as bills of lading. These must be retained for six months.
- Accident reports: Reports of any motor vehicle accidents a driver was involved in. These must be kept for three years.
This documentation often becomes key evidence in personal injury suits against trucking companies, as it can indicate violations of federal regulations. For example, a driver’s log indicating that a truck driver involved in a crash had exceeded his hours of service limit could be used as evidence that the trucking company was negligent.
Preventing Destruction of Evidence
As you can see, the retention period for most critical evidence in truck accident cases is less than the two-year statute of limitations. Destruction of evidence to prevent its use in litigation is known as “spoliation.” To prevent the destruction of trucking records, your attorney can send a spoliation letter to the trucking company alerting them that you intend to pursue a claim and that they should preserve any evidence relevant to your claim. Defendants who ignore spoliation letters and proceed to destroy evidence may face sanctions at trial.
Take On the Trucking Companies With Help From a Tifton Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a truck accident, an attorney can help to ensure that critical evidence is preserved. For more information, please contact a Tifton truck accident attorney at the Hudson Injury Firm by calling 229-396-5848 or using our online form.