Preserving Evidence

Civil Litigation

September 2015

The Importance of Preserving Evidence

Parties involved in litigation have a duty to preserve potential evidence even before a lawsuit is filed.

Two recent cases show the importance of taking steps to preserve evidence.

Photographic Evidence

In the first lawsuit, I represented a woman who slipped on a cruise ship and broke her ankle. Water was seeping out of the wall from a broken pipe, causing an unnoticeable wet area on a slick floor. After she fell, several helpful witnesses took pictures of the area with their cell phones and gave my client their phone numbers.

Those photographs established the origin and source of the water. Because the internal plumbing was in the exclusive control of the cruise line, my client had a very strong liability case.

Missing Payroll Records

In the second lawsuit, I represented a salesman who worked on commission and did not receive from his former company the appropriate payment for the work he performed. Unfortunately, he did not keep good records. His former company had the records but failed to preserve them, claiming that, after the suit was filed, their computer crashed and lost the records that would have permitted my client to calculate the proper commission payments that he had earned.

Because the defendant-employer failed to take steps to preserve the crucial evidence, the jury was permitted to infer that the evidence would have been adverse to the employer. Even though my client’s records were scant, the adverse inference that the jury drew resulted in a large award.

These are but two examples of why it is important to preserve evidence. If you feel the actions of another person or company have caused you to suffer damages, collect all of the evidence that you can and provide it to your attorney.
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