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Preserve the Evidence in Personal Injury Cases with a Preservation Letter

When a person is injured in an accident, it is important that they first seek medical care. Once their injury is stabilized however, it is crucial that the injured person preserve evidence relating to their accident. Because persons who cause accidents very often lie about what happened, and it can take months or even years for a personal injury case to get to court, it is important that injured persons have the evidence they need to when their case. A preservation letter can help with that evidence.

Often times, evidence that helps to prove an injured person's case is in the hands of the defendant. Video of a slip and fall inside a store is a good example. The store has the evidence and might delete the video evidence before the injured person has a chance to obtain it through court proceedings. This is where a preservation letter can come in handy. A preservation letter is a notice to the defendant that the injured person can send asking the defendant to preserve evidence. The letter should not be unreasonable in its request, but can ask that the defendant preserve video, photographs, witness statements, and other evidence. In car wreck cases, preservations letters can ask the defendant to preserve the vehicle until the injured person has an opportunity to inspect it and photo the vehicle. In tractor trailer wrecks, preservation letters can include evidence relating to the truck driver's logs and other records. The letter should be sent to the defendant, not the insurance company or the adjuster working on the case, although it can be copied to them.

If a defendant destroys evidence that they were asked to preserve, the injured person can obtain an instruction from the court that is read to the jury. The instruction states that the evidence was in the defendant's control and that the defendant destroyed the evidence. Therefore, the jury can presume that the evidence would have hurt the defendant's case.

Of course, the injured person should keep a copy of the preservation letter and provide proof that the defendant received the letter. Usually sending the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, can accomplish this goal.

It is important to hire an attorney quickly in a case where evidence needs to be preserved so that the preservation letter can be correctly drafted and served on the defendant. However, if this is not possible, there is little drawback to the injured person sending this letter himself.

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Ruth Smith Law Firm Personal Injury and Disability LAW

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