Evidence is the material used in court cases to either prove or disprove the charges. Strong evidence translates to a strong case, so if you are ever involved in a personal injury case, then you want to do everything in your power to ensure that all evidence remains intact and accessible. Spoliation occurs when evidence is lost, destroyed, or otherwise tampered with; when this happens, the evidence can no longer be used in the case.
Depending on the case, there may be penalties for spoliation of evidence. The penalty could involve having to pay a fine, or it could result in criminal proceedings and conviction. To some judges, when an individual destroys the evidence involved in a personal injury, it may appear as if that person had a desire for the evidence to be destroyed and therefore was aware of his or her guilt.
Specifically, in personal injury cases, spoliation can affect cases involving defective products. If you are involved in a personal injury case based on a defective product, your saving that defective product could mean the difference between winning your personal injury case and having the case dismissed because the only evidence available was your testimony.
Because of spoliation, a Texas man was awarded over one million dollars in a 2013 slip-and-fall case. In this case, Brookshire Brothers Ltd. V. Aldridge, the store where the fall occurred had recorded over the footage shot by the surveillance system in the minutes prior to when the fall occurred. The jury saw this as the store attempting to cover up any footage of possible wrongdoing, to avoid releasing footage that might show they were guilty.
If you become injured due to a defective product, do not throw the product away. Preserve the product so it will make it to trial if need be. If you believe you have grounds for a personal injury case, it is important to contact an attorney right away. Your attorney can help you understand your options, and can also instruct you on how you can best preserve evidence to prevent spoliation from spoiling your case.