Whether someone is assaulted on your premises or you have a disgruntled ex-employee claiming they experienced on-the-job discrimination, it’s never pleasant to have the threat of a lawsuit hanging over your head.
At the same time, you need to be proactive about your interests – and that means making sure that all potential evidence (good or bad) that’s related to the case must be preserved. Otherwise, you could lose your case simply because of the way the courts treat spoliation.
What is the spoliation of evidence?
Basically, spoliation occurs whenever a defendant in a civil case can’t (or won’t) produce evidence that could potentially be disadvantageous to their position whenever:
- The defendant had control of the evidence in question.
- The defendant either knew or should have known that the evidence could be important.
If you fail to preserve whatever evidence relevant to the litigation you have, the court can punish you in a variety of ways – and that includes by accepting as fact that the missing evidence would have hurt your case.
What do you need to do to prevent spoliation?
You don’t want to wait until you have notice of a pending lawsuit to take action. Just having the reasonable possibility that a lawsuit could arise out of a situation creates a legal obligation to preserve any relevant evidence. While what you need to do will vary according to the situation, that means things like:
- Securing any security camera footage that may show the incident in question
- Making sure that all electronic communications are properly saved and stored
- Collecting employment records, including performance reviews and write-ups
A lot of your energy will probably be focused around digital data. However, don’t forget to preserve paper documents as well.
Businesses are targeted in civil lawsuits all the time. The best way to protect your company’s future is to make sure that you have experienced legal guidance by your side at the first sign of trouble.