If you’re company has been hit with a lawsuit, then you’re probably worried about avoiding liability and the big judgment that may accompany it. This is justifiable. After all, a large judgment can negatively impact your business’s financial footing, and thereby its operations, employee morale, and even its reputation. But as you think of ways to try to avoid liability, you also have to be careful not to breach any duties under the law that you may have pertaining to litigation. One of the biggest is preventing spoliation of evidence.
What is spoliation?
In short, spoliation is the intentional, negligent, or accidental destruction of evidence that is pertinent to pending litigation. It can prevent one party from fully presenting its case, which is why spoliation is frowned upon in the legal system. In fact, as a defendant in one of these cases, you’re required to take reasonable measures to preserve evidence and prevent spoliation.
What happens if spoliation occurs?
If spoliation occurs, then you’re at risk of several negative outcomes. To start, a court may allow a jury to take a negative inference from the destruction of evidence, or it may instruct a jury to presume that the destroyed evidence was detrimental to the defense’s case. Also, a court may sanction you for failing to take steps to ensure that relevant evidence was preserved. This can include a hefty fine.
Protect your interests every step of the way
Spoliation of evidence can leave you susceptible on two fronts, which can put you at risk of facing even larger damages. That’s why it’s important that you’re proactive in implementing preventative measures that seek to preserve evidence. Even if that evidence isn’t favorable to you, you still may have strong insurance defense options at your disposal. That’s why it may be a good idea to discuss the unique circumstances of your case with a legal professional.