Spoliation in Truck Accident: Most Commonly Cited Case

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I have written and read a good bit about spoliation in truck accident cases.  A common case cited nationally in these cases is J.B. Hunt Transp. Inc. v. Bentley, 207 Ga. App. 250, 427 S.E.2d 499 (1992).  In this truck accident case, the defendant trucking company did what many trucking companies do after an accident: destroy the logbook.  There was no conspiracy: this was a destruction in the normal course of business.  Plaintiff' filed a lawsuit alleging that the accident was caused because of driver fatigue.    bigtruck.jpg

Plaintiff's lawyers screamed that the defendant should have - given the notice of a potential claim - preserved the trucking logs.  The trial court agreed, telling the jury that they should presume that the trucking logbook would have shown that the driver did not have sufficient rest. 

The court relied I'm sure in no small part on the fact that the trucking company was clearly a bad seed.  It was a "habitual violator" of the hours-in-service requirements of the Georgia Public Service Commission for its vehicles.   One-third of the company's logbook violations which were penalized were because of driver excessive driving.  Incredibly, and this is over-the-top even for poorly run trucking companies, it operated a "forced dispatch" system, under which drivers could be terminated for not driving a load upon demand. 

That said, destruction of trucking logs after an accident is common, even when the company knows that a potential claim may follow.  Good truck accident lawyers use this lack of evidence to their advantage and seek an instruction that the destroyed evidence would have helped plaintiff's case.  

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