Spoliation Of Evidence

Shredded PaperWhat is Spoliation of Evidence?

Spoliation of evidence is a legal term that may be simply defined as the “destruction of evidence”.  The evidence destroyed is usually very relevant to a pending legal claim or case.  Most of the time it is the defendant who is accused by the plaintiff of destroying evidence that they knew was favorable to a plaintiff’s case.

Often the evidence is video of the plaintiff getting hurt on the defendant’s premises.  In other cases the “destroyed evidence” could be documents, such as memorandums written by defendant’s employees admitting elements of wrongdoing.  In any case, when evidence has been destroyed, intentionally or unintentionally, it is not only bad, it often ends the opportunity for the plaintiff to make fair and successful recovery.

Importance of Technology Today

In today’s world of technology, surveillance cameras are everywhere.  If you were hurt, there might be a better than average chance it was caught on camera.  We need that video.  It is important that you or your legal representative notify the owner of the surveillance equipment that the data thereon is evidence relevant to a legal case.  That notice should be in writing, delivered by certified mail or by hand-delivery, and take a stern no-nonsense tone.

Keep in mind, that while the owner of the surveillance equipment may not have a “legal duty” to preserve that evidence, a judge could nonetheless punish them for their intentional or unintentional destruction of evidence, especially after warning by their legal representative.  The consequences for loss, alteration, or destruction of relevant evidence is becoming increasingly serious.  One way a judge might penalize a defendant who destroyed evidence is to instruct the jury that they are to assume as fact that the defendant destroyed evidence that was good for the plaintiff’s case. This assumption often results in higher damages awarded.

In the event you have a personal injury case where there are known surveillance cameras in place, you should seriously consider having an attorney write a “spoliation of evidence” letter for you.

At The SOUD Law Firm we do our best to make sure you are awarded ALL the damages you deserve.  That includes anticipating bad conduct on the part of the other side, and doing what we can to counter act it.  Contact us today for a free case evaluation to find out what your options are.  We would be happy to help.