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Florida Court Discusses a Third Party’s Duty to Preserve Evidence

If you have been injured in an accident, the last thing you want to worry about is evidence not being preserved properly. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our highly reputable Miami injury attorneys understand the specific laws surrounding preservation of evidence in Florida personal injury cases and will make sure that your rights are protected. Personal injury cases are complicated, which is why it is imperative that you work with an attorney who understands this area of law.

A very important aspect of any Florida personal injury claim is the pre-trial discovery phase. During this process, parties can ask for relevant information from the other side. If the court approves a request for discovery, it will order that the evidence is shared with the opposing party. Preserving all relevant evidence, even if it is unfavorable to you, is critical.

The Florida Supreme Court has held that all parties have a duty to preserve evidence as soon as litigation is “reasonably anticipated.” Therefore, the duty to preserve evidence may kick in prior to a lawsuit is even filed. In all Florida personal injury cases, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving each and every element of the personal injury claim by a preponderance of the evidence.  As such, failing to preserve evidence can seriously jeopardize a plaintiff’s ability to effectively prove his or her case.

Under Rule 1.380 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may impose sanctions on a party that was found to have violated a discovery order. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, sanctions may vary in severity and can range from a claim being dismissed to a default judgment being entered against the other party.

It is important to note, however, that the duty to preserve evidence does not extend to third parties who are not involved in the lawsuit. In a  recent decisiona Florida appeals court ruled that a third party who is not a party to a lawsuit does not have a duty to preserve evidence simply based on the knowledge or foreseeability of a lawsuit. The court explained that extending the duty to preserve evidence to third parties would have the effect of “declaring a general legal duty on any nonparty witness to anticipate the needs of others’ lawsuits,” which is simply much too broad.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall incident or in a car accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our seasoned Miami personal injury attorneys understand how to preserve relevant evidence in personal injury cases. With years of experience, we are dedicated to helping our clients hold the at-fault party accountable and obtain the damages they need to move on with their life. Having helped countless South Florida clients, we understand the nuances of Florida personal injury law. For more information about your legal options, please feel free to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or reach out to us online.