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Spoliation of Evidence in Florida Personal Injury Cases

documentsIf you or someone you know has been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another party, it is important to consult a reputable Miami injury attorney who can examine the facts of your case. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we understand how important it is to thoroughly investigate the matter and collect evidence in a timely manner. You can rest assured that we will handle every aspect of your claim with the utmost diligence.

Personal injury claims in Florida are usually rooted in the theory of negligence. Negligence is a failure to exercise reasonable care in one’s actions. Reasonable care is defined as how a prudent or sensible person would act in the same circumstances. Negligence can also take place when a person fails to act when he or she had a duty to do so. In order to win on a negligence claim, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, that the defendant breached this duty, and that the plaintiff’s injuries and damages were a direct consequence of the defendant’s breach.

Establishing liability in a negligence case, whether it is a car accident or a slip and fall, often requires key pieces of evidence. Spoliation of evidence, sometimes referred to as the “destruction of evidence,” takes place when a party negligently or intentionally destroys material that is needed as evidence in litigation. Some examples of spoliation include getting rid of documents or records, failing to preserve video surveillance or other types of video footage, or prematurely repairing damage to property without having it inspected.

The Florida Supreme Court has stated that all parties have a responsibility to preserve evidence when a lawsuit is “reasonably foreseeable.” One party’s failure to preserve important evidence can be extremely problematic. While it can be troublesome to both sides, it can create significant difficulties for a plaintiff in a personal injury case. This is because the plaintiff has the burden of proof, and without certain evidence, that plaintiff may not be able to prove his or her case.

Given the profound impact that spoliation has on one side’s ability to prove its case, courts typically respond harshly to spoliation. The trial judge has broad discretion to impose sanctions for spoliation of evidence. This determination will vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the actions of the party who destroyed the evidence. Possible sanctions include the exclusion of expert testimony, the imposition of an evidentiary presumption, the dismissal of a case, or a default judgment for the party who did not destroy the evidence.

Building a personal injury case can be a complex process. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our skilled Miami injury attorneys have the dedication and know-how to handle virtually all types of personal injury claims. For years, we have helped South Florida clients seek the compensation they deserve for their harm, and we can help you as well. For more information, do not hesitate to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or reach out to us online today.

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Negligent Entrustment and Vicarious Liability in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, November 3, 2016

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