This is part four of a four part series discussing the spoliation of evidence. For previous posts discussing the spoliation of evidence, please click here.
The next challenging task was to prove that this spoliated evidence was relevant. I hired an accident reconstruction expert. In his report, the expert noted that the tractor-trailer was unavailable for inspection. Further, the expert concluded that this unavailability prevented an analysis of the specific effect the “out-of-adjustment” brakes and the other roadworthiness violations may have had on the braking ability of the vehicle and/or on the collision. That report enabled me to show that the spoliation here was relevant to issues of fault.
Having proven spoliation, the defendant was faced with a potential adverse inference which implicated the integrity of the tractor trailer’s brakes. Against that backdrop, the tractor trailer company and its driver were highly likely to lose the right-of-way stand-off. The jury would learn of the defendant’s evidence destruction and how that destruction impeded plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert. The defendant had no choice but to accept responsibility for the crash and settle the case by fully compensating my client for all of his injuries. And that’s exactly what they did.
The revelation trumpeted from spoliation law is that whatever evidence populates the planet in the case’s beginning, it behooves lawyers and litigants (and insurance carriers) to preserve that evidence. While those who fail to do so risk neither God’s wrath nor banishment to the Galapagos Islands to ponder archeological extinction, a failure to understand spoliation of evidence law can mean the difference between failure and success in many personal injury lawsuits, especially in trucking accident, product defect, medical malpractice, construction site and trip/slip and fall cases.