Updated February 23, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff
When you have experienced the trauma of a truck accident, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around what needs to be done. There are medical bills, physical recovery, insurance, and taking legal action, not to mention the emotional toll accidents have on your wellbeing.
Truck accidents can quickly become complicated, so having a legal team backing you up and initiating litigation through a spoliation letter can help with the process of getting compensated for the accident you were involved in. There is a reason trucking injuries are one of the most common areas in writing spoliation letters.
Spoliation is the intentional destruction or alteration of evidence by the party who holds data that can be used against them. A spoliation letter, also known as a litigation hold or preservation letter, is a legal document in the form of a notice to an opposing party. The letter requests the party (a company, individual, or third-party) to preserve all relevant evidence.
Making sure preservation of electronic evidence, also known as electronically-stored information (ESI) or e-documentation, is an important part of initiating legal holds. The litigation hold letter, which can also be phrased as a litigation hold notice, trigger the duty to preserve all evidence.
Legal hold letters really took off in 2003 when electronic discovery was introduced in court. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin changed the platform of electronic preservation duties in court cases during the Zubulake v. UBS Warburg case. Judge Scheindlin transformed the modern courtroom when it comes to eDiscovery and defining triggers for evidence retention.
Spoliation Letters are sent out to the defendant who holds evidence for a case. For example, when you are injured in a trucking accident, you may send a spoliation letter to the trucking company since they will have printed and electronically-stored records and reports, plus the damaged vehicle. A spoliation letter requests that the company preserves general or specific evidence for future litigation.
The parties the letter is sent to have a duty to preserve evidence. In fact, it is federal law that a party must preserve evidence from the time they anticipate litigation (the process of taking legal action).
Spoliation letters are the difference between large amounts of potentially lost data and intentionally saved specific data for evidence.
Federal law views the preservation of evidence as a common-law duty even before a claim is filed. Yet, federal common law is limited because it only applies to federal courts. Therefore, in any legal case where incriminating evidence belongs to another party, spoliation letters are important so your document retention notice leaves a paper trail.
Litigation hold notices are also important because of the volume of information companies deal with on a day-to-day basis. Spoliation letters are essential to ensure the company at hand can gather all of the information needed for the litigation and have it in one place, ready for a case.
Sending spoliation letters are considered taking reasonable steps to make a case. Triggering a case can be made vocally, with subpoenas, or with credible threats. Yet, supplying a document preservation notice stating what you expect from the other party makes the triggering of litigation clear.
Presenting a notice of preservation (spoliation letter) in truck accidents is necessary because of the regulations required by truck companies. In order for trucks to be cleared for travel, trucks go through standard maintenance procedures which could potentially destroy evidence for your case.
When a preservation of evidence letter is presented specifying the vehicle or other potential contributing factors in the case of injury, the truck company needs to keep all evidence or potential evidence and halt their regular processes. Even if there isn’t anything obvious on the truck, evidence may arise later. It’s important to request any and all records that relate to your injury.
An important part of this legal hold process is the spoliation itself. If you suspect spoliation from the other party did occur (meaning you think they destroyed records or other evidence), you may consider writing a spoliation claim.
A litigation hold, also known as preservation order or legal hold, is the actual process that the party to whom a spoliation letter was written engages in. When litigation is pending or anticipated, the organization has a duty to start the legal hold process:
When you decide to pursue legal actions for a truck injury, gather a legal team to oversee the process. Having an experienced team of lawyers to support you and walk you through this process will help you receive the proper compensation.
There can be verbal triggers for litigation even before a letter is written, yet to trigger the legal process on paper via a spoliation letter will give a reasonable anticipation of litigation. When the individual or company is notified, they are obligated to preserve evidence. You want to make sure you know what should be included in the document retention notice so the notice is complete and solid.
Legal hold release notice sample topics often include:
Note: These are suggestions for what may be relevant information. We advise you to contact an attorney or talk with your attorney about specifics regarding your case.
Once you have all of the information, writing the legal hold is the next step. Some writing tools to consider are:
Opposing Party Identifies and Monitors Information:
This part of the process is the preservation of evidence requested. The opposing party should:
When everything is collected and the claim if finalized, a litigation hold can be released.
We understand that medical bills, insurance conversations, and more while focusing on recovery can feel overwhelming after an accident. If you or a family member have been injured in a truck-related accident, contact the team of experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyers of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. We can help you with the support of navigating legal complexities and seeking the compensation you deserve.
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