Spoliation of Evidence in a Personal Injury Case
Evidence is crucial to your personal injury case. When there isn’t enough evidence your lawyer will have a more difficult time proving that a wrong has been committed by the other side. Evidence not only proves that the other side acted negligently or even intentionally wrong, but it is also needed to prove the extent of the harm that you suffered as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Because evidence is so important to a case, it is crucial that the other side not be allowed to destroy evidence.
The destruction of evidence is called evidence spoliation. Spoliation of evidence can refer to the destruction of evidence by erasing it, shredding it, throwing it away, or allowing it to be recorded over. For example, if you were injured in a slip and fall at a business and the fall was recorded on video and the store then allowed that video to be recorded over, that evidence would be destroyed and a spoliation of the evidence would have occurred.
In order to ensure that spoliation does not occur, it is important that you take crucial steps in your case. These steps may include sending the other side a well-drafted spoliation notice. It may also be important to secure evidence from others. For example a police dash camera video or the cameras on a passing public bus may show a motor vehicle collision as it occurred. These videos may be retained for a relatively short time frame before being recorded over. If a request for the video isn’t made through the proper channels, this evidence may be lost.
Sending a spoliation letter puts the defendant on notice that they must preserve the evidence. Once on notice, the defendant has a legal obligation to preserve the evidence. Once protected by a spoliation letter, the destruction of evidence by the other side will likely lead to consequences. One common penalty imposed by courts, is to presume that the evidence that the other side allowed to spoliate would have been harmful to their case, and weigh the evidence accordingly. In this way, the evidence no longer in existence may still tip the scales of justice in your favor.
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