In today’s world more and more people want to evade their responsibilities; in the process, some even commit crimes. This article will talk about this in three different ways:
(1) What does hide and destroy evidence mean?
(2) Is it possible to obtain compensation if the evidence is destroyed?
(3) What must be done to achieve it?
Note: To obtain compensation in these complicated cases you need a qualified personal injury lawyer. Learn how to identify one here.
WHAT IS SPOLIATION?
According to the California Court of Appeal, spoliation means “failure to preserve property for another’s use as evidence in pending or future litigation”.
OTHERS DEFINITIONS TO SPOLIATION
• “The destruction, mutilation or alteration of evidence by a party to an action” (Supreme Court of Minnesota)
• “The intentional destruction of evidence or the significant and meaningful alteration of a document or instrument” (Black’s Law Dictionary)
So, what should be done if the defendant, or the guilty but not yet sued, destroys the evidence? The answer varies depending on different factors that will be analyzed in the next subtitle.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE DEFENDANT DESTROYS LEGAL EVIDENCE TO AVOID PAYING THE COMPENSATION?
Although personal injury claims generally do not go to court, when the culprit destroys the evidence they do go to trial.
This is because, after the destruction of evidence, the defendant completely disassociates himself from the facts and must be called to testify in court.
Since the 1980s, there has been an increasing trend of destruction or loss of evidence. For this reason, the courts have begun to establish sanctions against the parties responsible for the loss of evidence. Furthermore, they have used various methods to deal with the destruction of evidence.
There are 3 general sources for compensating a victim who has lost evidence to spoliation:
(1) State criminal sanctions, found in statues or penal codes, relating to the obstruction of justice
(2) Civil discovery sanctions intended to penalize litigants who intentionally “prevent” discovery
(3) The spoliation inference based on the “maxim omniapraesumuntur contra spoliatorem” (all things are presumed against a wrongdoer)
These 3 legal procedures are based on just 1 principle: “the spoliator was conscious of his guilt and believed that the destroyed material could have declared them guilty”.
Therefore, as expressed before, after the evidence is destroyed the case can continue in many different ways.
If only part of the evidence was destroyed and there are other alternative ways to prove what happened, the victim and their personal injury lawyer can proceed with the civil lawsuit.
But if there is no way to prove what happened and it is reasonably proven that someone eliminated, deteriorated, hid, or prevented the evidence from being found, the court itself has the power and the duty to prosecute the person who wants to evade justice.
TO WHAT EXTENT MAY THE COURT INTERVENE IN A SPOLIATION CASE?
The laws of this country give the court some power to dismiss lawsuits and impose penalties on people who destroy evidence, but they establish a basis that cannot be violated.
The Tort Law mentions that the court can only impose penalties on a person who destroys evidence when that destruction violates a court order. In some cases, it can be assumed that there was a “preexisting order”, like the prohibitions already established by law.
But in others, a party could avoid punishment simply by destroying the evidence before a discovery order is requested.
Therefore, it is logical to ask:
IS IT POSSIBLE TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION IF THE DEFENDANT DESTROYS THE EVIDENCE?
The answer is yes, it is possible. But the victim has to act fast. The faster the victim of the injury acts, the more likely they will receive compensation.
Because the discovery order that ties the culprit to the case is issued as soon as possible. Therefore, he has no way to evade it.
ACT QUICKLY, ACT WISELY
If you have been the victim of a personal injury and the person who caused those injuries destroyed the evidence, contact a personal injury lawyer Vaughan. It is extremely important that you do so. In this way, you will guarantee the payment of your compensation and no wrongdoer will be able to evade their responsibility before the courts.
Note: All the information in this article is based on a paper called “Spoilage of Evidence- Crimes, Sanctions, Inferences and Torts”, published by the American Bar Association in 1993, that the reader can consult here.