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Spoliation of Evidence in Texas Personal Injury Lawsuits

The success of a Texas personal injury lawsuit relies heavily on the evidence that the parties present. A plaintiff that fails to present evidence establishing the defendant’s negligence is unlikely to receive damages for their injuries. In some instances, plaintiffs are unable to present compelling and relevant proof because the evidence is unavailable. When dealing with potentially relevant evidence, both parties have a duty to ensure that such evidence is preserved and available for trial.

Spoliation occurs when a party fails to preserve or destroys relevant evidence. Trial courts must remedy such conduct because spoliation deprives the fact finder of critical evidence. Some common behaviors that may lead to spoliation are when the offending party destroys video footage, forges or alters safety documents, or tampers with witness statements.

Although Texas does not identify a specific tort for spoliation, the offending party may face other sanctions, including a spoliation jury instruction. In Texas, a judge may give the jury an instruction to make an adverse inference against the offending party. Courts have recognized that a spoliation instruction may unfairly impact a jury’s verdict. In response, the Supreme Court of Texas clarified how to address claims of spoliation and impose remedies.

Spoliation analysis requires that the court determine whether a party altered or destroyed evidence and the appropriate remedy. To meet the first requirement, the court must find that the offending party had a duty to preserve evidence and they negligently breached that duty. Texas courts must discuss potential sanctions outside of the presence of the jury. Remedies depend on the culpability of the offending party and the degree of prejudice that the other party face from the spoliation.

Texas spoliation remedies include sanctions such as an award of attorney’s fees, dismissal, and a spoliation jury instruction. A spoliation jury instruction is only appropriate when the court finds that the offending party specifically intended to hide evidence, and no other remedy is appropriate. Texas injury victims must understand the importance of preserving relevant evidence. Spoliation can result in severe consequences, and it is crucial to contact an attorney if you believe that another party has tampered with evidence that may be relevant in your case.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Texas Accident?

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries because of another’s negligence, consider contacting the experienced Texas personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Carabin Shaw. The attorneys at the law firm have over 25 years of experience advocating on behalf of victims in all types of cases, including Texas car accident cases and slip and fall claims. The personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact of an accident and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Compensation may include payments for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other related expenses that a victim incurs. Our attorneys can also help you understand your rights and remedies if the other party destroyed or altered relevant evidence. Contact Carabin Shaw today at 800-862-1260 to schedule your free initial consultation.