When someone is injured in a Washington, D.C. accident as the result of someone else’s negligence, the law allows them to file a claim to recover monetary damages for their injury. But, in order to be successful, the plaintiff must prove their case through evidence. However, in some cases, the defendant may negligently or intentionally destroy evidence that the plaintiff needs to win at trial. This is particularly true in products liability cases but can happen in other Washington, D.C. personal injury cases as well. When this happens, plaintiffs can bring a spoliation of evidence claim against the party who destroyed the evidence.
In Washington, D.C., plaintiffs can only bring a spoliation of evidence claim against a third-party. For an example of a third-party spoliation case, take a recent state appellate case in which a plaintiff was injured using a paint sprayer at work. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was injured when the paint sprayer activated whilst being cleaned, and injected paint and minerals into his right index finger. The plaintiff was transported to the hospital and underwent a series of painful procedures to try and save his finger. Ultimately, the plaintiff’s finger could not be saved and had to be amputated all the way down to this hand. The plaintiff then had to have another medical procedure at the amputation site and is now at great risk of developing additional painful conditions as a result of the injury.
The plaintiff wanted to bring a products liability case against the manufacturer of the paint sprayer, but unfortunately, the paint sprayer and all of its related parts were negligently lost by the plaintiff’s workplace. The plaintiff thus brought a third-party spoliation of evidence claim against his workplace, because their negligence in storing the evidence he needed for his claim impacted his ability to recover under a products liability case.