Spoliation of Evidence
Truck Accident Attorney Explains How to Demand Preservation & Production of Evidence
Truck accident victims seeking payment for property damage and personal injury damages have the legal burden to collect and present evidence to prove truck driver fault and to prove all injuries and losses. However, this evidence is sometimes in the sole possession of the truck driver or the trucking company. Fortunately, North Carolina law allows the victim to demand that the evidence be collected, preserved and held carefully for use in the case once litigation ensures. By properly notifying all at-fault parties of the evidence needed, the defense is then under a legal duty not to destroy or negligently lose evidence relevant to the underlying case. Spoliation of evidence is the destruction or alteration of evidence, or the failure to preserve evidence, in pending litigation or reasonably foreseeable litigation. Crucial documents and other relevant information must be preserved once a party is aware that they may be involved in litigation. Since Raleigh truck accident lawyer Carl Nagle has devoted his legal practice to protecting the rights of individuals and families following a motor vehicle collision, he is familiar with the potential harm caused by spoliation of evidence. Mr. Nagle and his team are prepared to list all potential physical, digital and documentary evidence that might be later needed in the truck accident trial, and to properly notify ALL responsible parties so that they then have a legal duty to hold evidence for your benefit. His trucking collision law practice is statewide, with sevenoffices available to serve you, and hee has helped people throughout North Carolina, including in Asheville, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem.
Hold a Trucking Company Accountable for Spoliation of Evidence
North Carolina law provides an obligation to preserve evidence that takes effect before the filing of a complaint if the opposing party has been put on notice that evidence is being requested and that litigation may be commenced. A plaintiff victim of a truck accident must have placed the defendant on notice of the claim, or the potential of the claim, before the time that the defendant destroyed the evidence. While the law concerning spoliation of evidence is evolving, it is clear that electronic discovery issues remain central to spoliation claims. It is imperative that defendant trucking companies and their insurers be put on notice of potential claims in order to preserve relevant evidence.
Accident victims who pursue a personal injury claim against a trucking company and its insurance company may rely on a variety of evidence in support of their legal claim, including electronic emails and data. A trucking company may not necessarily have the intention to alter or destroy electronic data; instead, data may be automatically removed from a computer or electronic system. In some cases, there may be an inadvertent removal or a failure to save evidence, but companies may also intentionally destroy evidence or change the names of files or their dates of creation.
Spoliation of evidence is a significant challenge to an injury claim, and a truck accident victim asserting that the defendant should receive sanctions for spoliation must show that the party with control over the evidence had a duty to preserve it at the time that it was destroyed. Victims must also show that the evidence was destroyed with a culpable state of mind and that the evidence was relevant to their claim.
First, in order for the court to recognize a claim of spoliation, there must be a duty to preserve information. This duty arises when a party knows or should know that the evidence may be relevant to pending litigation that it reasonably anticipates. In some cases, it may be difficult to ascertain which evidence must be preserved. The general rule is that a party must preserve what it knows or reasonably should know is relevant to the action or is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. After a trucking company has committed spoliation by allowing evidence to be lost or damaged, the victim becomes entitled to a jury instruction at trial advising the jury that evidence in the trucking company’s possession was requested, was later lost or destroyed, and therefore that the jury can infer/conclude that the lost evidence would have been damaging to the defense and helpful to the plaintiff. Simply put, evidence spoliation law allows us to gain considerable ground in the effort to win the victim’s case at trial.
Preserve Your Legal Rights After a Truck Accident by Enlisting a Skilled Raleigh Attorney
Attorney Carl Nagle has successfully recovered millions of dollars on behalf of people injured in motor vehicle accidents throughout North Carolina. Mr. Nagle prioritizes the financial needs of injured individuals in order to leave them secure and confident that they can meet their future expenses related to the accident. Trucking companies should be held accountable for conduct that impedes a successful legal resolution of a personal injury claim, including spoliation of evidence. Contact a skilled tractor-trailer crash lawyer to discuss the details of your claim. Our firm can be reached online or by calling (800) 411-1583. We have assisted victims in Hickory, Charlotte, Greensboro, Wilmington, Asheville, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and other communities throughout Guilford, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, Brunswick, Durham, Cumberland, New Hanover, and Catawba Counties.