Spoliation of Evidence in Truck Accident and Car Accident Cases
Obviously, in fairness to all parties, the best practice with respect to evidence in a case is to preserve all potential evidence until all legal proceeds have began and concluded. But the real world often takes us down another path.
The intentional or negligent destruction or spoliation of evidence threatens the integrity of our judicial system. Naturally, as lawyers, you can assume we will come up with a Latin expression to address this problem: omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatem, which means "all things are presumed against the spoliator."
Maryland has adopted this maxim because of the logical presumption that one would not ordinarily destroy evidence favorable to himself.
Accordingly, under Maryland law, the destruction or alteration of evidence by a party gives rise to inferences or presumptions unfavorable to the spoliator. Unexplained and intentional destruction of evidence by a litigant gives rise to an inference that the evidence would have been unfavorable to his cause. Maryland law does not require a showing of bad faith to support this inference. Anderson v. Litzenberg, 115 Md. App. 549, 561-562 (1997) (case involving accident caused by a dump truck tarp coming lose and causing an accident; presumption that from the destruction of the tarp, there was a rebuttable presumption that the destruction of the tarp should be lead to an inference that it the tarp would show evidence unfavorable to defendant). See also Larsen v. Romeo, 254 Md. 220, 255 (1969).
Accordingly, in motor vehicle collision case, it is important for accident attorneys to pin down early in an investigation what evidence might be available that could be intentionally on inadvertently destroyed.