Modern Day Trucking Litigation: Exposing Both the Physical and Corporate Cause of the Catastrophic Wreck

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Thursday, March 11th, 2010


Keith Dunlap, President of claims administration firm NTA, Inc. surveyed 18 trucking defense attorneys representing some of our nation’s largest trucking companies on whether carriers should collect ECM and trip recorder data following a serious incident and whether carriers should preserve that data even if it is adverse to their case. Not surprisingly, one in every three said it was a close call and would depend upon the specific facts. In essence, one in three of those representing the transportation industry, was not opposed to the destruction of evidence by their transportation clients. Of those who were opposed to such antics, most were motivated by a fear of having a spoliation of evidence charge made against them instead of being motivated by such principals of honesty and integrity. According to the Commercial Carrier University:
“ Spoliation: noun, potentially big trouble for motor carriers that fail to retain driver logs, electronic control module or satellite-trucking data, or other information that might be relevant to a catastrophic accident.”

Pursue this data with all vigor. Most accident reconstructionist are now certified to download and interpret electronic control module data. These individuals can also inform you as to whether or not the respective tract has ecm capabilities. If possible, you should try to have an expert present when the data is downloaded, as certain trip data is erased if not properly preser5ved during the initial download after an incident. Also, many transportation carriers use ecm data to monitor their drivers. An expert can determine from an audit trail attached to ecm download, how many times before the data has been downloaded. Most large transportation carriers have designated employees who are certified to download and interpret. Find one who these individuals are and why they have downloaded information in the past. Also obtain any and all previous downloads for the respective tractor.


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