Spoliation of Evidence in Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Claims

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.

Under D.C. law, in order to prevail on a claim for negligent spoliation of evidence, a plaintiff must prove seven things: (1) that there is the existence of a potential civil action against another party; (2) that the defendant had a duty to preserve the evidence; (3) that the evidence was destroyed; (4) that the potential civil action is significantly impacted; (5) that the unavailability of the destroyed evidence is the proximate cause of the civil action’s impairment; (6) that the potential civil action would likely be successful if the evidence was available; and (7) that real damages were suffered as a result. Failure to establish even one of these elements can bar a plaintiff from recovery, so it is important that a plaintiff works with an experienced attorney who can ensure the highest chance of success.

Do You Need a Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. accident, contact Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers today. And Lebowitz & Mzhen, we help plaintiffs recover for their injuries related to Washington, D.C. product liability, motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall cases, and more. If successful, you may receive monetary compensation to cover past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our dedicated attorneys have decades of experience in personal injury law and are familiar with how to overcome common barriers plaintiffs face. To learn more and set up your free consultation, call us today at 800-654-1949.

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