Missoula Legal Blog

Destruction of Evidence - Spoliation in the Trucking Industry

Trucking companies are required to keep certain records for a specific period of time prescribed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FCMCA).  The FMCSA Regulations specifically list categories of records and specific documents that motor carriers must keep and strict rules on how long the information must be preserved.  Pursuant to the FMCSA, categories of items that must be preserved by motor carriers include:

Fatigued Tractor-Trailer Drivers are Recklessly Dangerous

Paoli Law Firm CMYK.jpgThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that "long daily and weekly hours are associated with an increased risk of crashes and with the chronic health conditions associated with lack of sleep." The FMCSA implements hours of service (HOS) regulations with the goal of reducing the possibility of truck driver fatigue-related crashes.  To advance this effort, the FMCSA Regulations limit when and for how long drivers of commercial motor vehicles are allowed to drive in a given period.

Paoli Law Firm Committed to Community Service

The attorneys and staff at the Paoli Law Firm are committed to supporting and volunteering with organizations and non-profits in the Missoula community and statewide.  We believe it is our obligation to assist these groups, organizations, and individuals who need a hand with their daily endeavors or their good work throughout our community and state.  Paoli Law Firm has worked with and has contributed extensively to many organizations, groups, and individuals; primarily those who work with disadvantaged, disabled or at-risk children, teenagers and young adults.

Paoli Law Firm has volunteered, sponsored and contributed to many local, state, and national organizations, including:

  • Missoula Youth Homes: Cares for children who are facing abuse, neglect, emotional trauma and substance abuse problems.
  • Watson's Children's Shelter: Dedicated to providing a safe, nurturing environment for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment or family crisis.
  • Child Development Center: Provides family-focused support services to youth with developmental delays and disabilities in western Montana.
  • Montana Down Syndrome Association: Advocating for people with Down syndrome as well as providing educational, financial, social, and emotional support.
  • Keenan's Kids Foundation:  Committed to charity, community awareness and child advocacy.
  • CASA of Missoula: Court Appointed Special Advocates working on behalf of abused and neglected children.
  • The Poverello Center: Provides food, shelter, help, and hope to Missoula, Montana's homeless and underserved.
  • Missoula Food Bank: Leading the movement to end hunger in our community through activism, volunteerism and healthy food for all.
  • Missoula Art Museum: Serves the public by engaging audiences and artists in the exploration of contemporary art relevant to the community, state and region.
  • Garden City Harvest - Grows food with and for individuals with low income, offers education and training in agriculture, and works towards personal restoration of youth and adults.
  • Trout Unlimited - Works to conserve, protect and restore North America's cold water fisheries and  their watersheds.
  • Montana Land Reliance - Works to preserve Montana lands to sustain agriculture, wildlife, and fisheries for generations to come.
  • YMCA - Provides programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.  The YMCA strives to make a positive difference in the lives of the people it serves by offering programs that serve the needs of our community.
  • Many local high school and college sports teams including softball, basketball, soccer, wrestling, football, and golf.  We believe there are many benefits for children and young adults who participate in sports including exercise, development of teamwork and leadership skills, respect, social interaction, and a sense of belonging.

Missoula Bicycle Riders & Exposure to Significant Risk of Injury

Bicycling as a mode of transportation is on the rise.  (That is a good thing!)  In fact, the number of U.S. workers who commute to work via bicycle is rising faster than any other mode of transportation.  In the City of Missoula, home of the University of Montana, bicycling is a popular means of commuting to work, school, and everywhere in between.  Missoula city departments and local agencies continue to promote bicycling by developing our roads and trails to accommodate bicycle travel.  Missoula currently has over 22 miles of off-street trails and 40 miles of on-street bike lanes. 

bicycle picture.jpgWhile cycling is a popular mode of transportation because it is efficient and is a healthy way to get around, bike riders sharing the roadway with motor vehicle traffic may be exposed to a significant risk of injury.

Many bicycle versus car crashes result from automobile drivers' negligent and reckless actions, including failure to yield the right-of-way to cyclists.  In one case, Paoli Law Firm represented a bicyclist hit by a motor vehicle that failed to yield the right-of-way and recovered $130,000 in damages on behalf of our client.  In Montana, bicyclists have all of the rights and privileges as motor vehicle drivers.  They are also subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle.  To prevent motor vehicle versus bicycle crashes, motorists and bicyclists alike must follow and respect Montana laws. 

Although Montana state law does not require bicyclists of any age to wear a helmet, wearing protective gear may prevent severe injuries.  Bicyclists are no match for an automobile and consequently, in the event of a crash, bicyclists often suffer serious injuries or death resulting from crashes with cars and trucks. Common bike crash injuries include:

·         Head and brain injuries

·         Neck injuries

·         Back injuries

·         Broken bones or fractures

·         Abrasions and bruising

·         Internal injuries

Bicycle riders involved in a crash with a car or truck should seek medical attention immediately to address their injuries.

General Qualifications for a Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver

Common types of commercial motor vehicles include tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations (doubles and triples), buses, tanker vehicles, dump trucks, and passenger vans.  Being involved in a crash with a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is extremely frightening and may cause serious injuries or death.  Of course, because a CMV is much larger and heavier than the majority of vehicles on the highway, the damage and mayhem they cause in a crash is immense.

Because operating a tractor-trailer combination is inherently dangerous, driving a CMV requires a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities than those required to drive a non-commercial vehicle.  Aligned with the FMCSA's primary mission to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses, the FMCSA regulations define the qualification standards for commercial vehicle drivers.


In Montana, it's the law to slow down and move over when you see the lights of a stationary emergency, towing or maintenance vehicle.  The move over law is required to be observed on all Montana roadways open to the public.  When unable to move over, you are required to slow down by at least 20 mph.  Not only is this the law, but taking these simple steps could save a life and it is your moral responsibility as a driver on Montana's roadways to move over.  The lives of emergency and road assistance workers are put on the line to do their jobs and they depend on motorists paying attention, slowing down, and moving over.  Emergency scenes are complicated and there is always more going on than other motorists on the road can see or appreciate.  For example, officers, fire, and EMS personnel may be tending to injured people, communicating with other emergency responders, assessing injuries, and controlling the scene, among other duties.  These responders don't have time to have to continuously look over their shoulders to stay safe.  Move over and slow down. It's the law. 


After an 11-week trial, yesterday a federal jury in Dallas ordered Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics to pay over $1 billion in damages to six individuals who suffered serious and severe damages after being prescribed and implanted with DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant devices. The verdict was handed down as a result of the jury's determination that Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics are guilty of "despicable and vile conduct" for knowingly and fraudulently selling Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant devices that they knew were defective and dangerous for consumers


Often, family members do not have the skills and resources to care for their elderly loved ones who require special care.  Having to delegate this care to a skilled facility is a heart-wrenching decision that many people are required to make at some time in their life.  When the decision is made, it is imperative to ensure your loved one is receiving the attention and care they deserve and that is promised by the nursing home.  If the facility hired to care for your loved one fails to perform its duties appropriately and adequately, the elderly individual and his or her family members may have the right to recover damages for injuries resulting from the facilities breach of its duties and care.

Elderly individuals in nursing homes are vulnerable and can't protect themselves - that is the very nature of assisted living or long-term care centers.  Sadly, because of this, the elderly and infirm become targets of neglect or victims of crime.  Nursing home abuse is often unreported because the victims do not report the abuse for fear of being further neglected, dependence on others, or difficulty communicating.  You can help your loved one by being an effective advocate for them, staying in touch regularly, and by knowing the signs of elder abuse.


Declarations 2.jpg

In 2015, there were a total of 47,149 vehicle crashes in Montana, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For many of these crashes, there were multiple injured victims.    

No one plans on being injured in an automobile accident.  Unfortunately, serious crashes happen every day and even crashes that may seem minor as a passerby can result in significant damages and hardships for those involved.  Even those who are injured victims in these crashes may not know how serious their injuries may be.  For these reasons, it is crucial that you have adequate automobile insurance coverage to protect not only yourself, but others as well.  Understanding your automobile insurance policy and the coverages available to you is crucial. 

Email Us For A Response

How Can We Help You?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Firm Location:

Paoli Law Firm, P.C.
257 W Front St
Suite A
Missoula, MT 59802-4351

Toll Free: 800-332-4308
Phone: 406-542-3330
Fax: 406-542-3332
Map & Directions

Firm Number