Preservation of Electronic Evidence

Don’t delete that! If you have suffered an accident of any kind there may be important information on your cell phone or computer.

Whether you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and have photographs of the accident scene or the vehicles on your cell phone, or whether you suffered a workplace accident and have emails or text messages from co-workers or your boss, the electronic information on your cell phone or computer can be vitally important to your case. As soon as you suspect that there may be a lawsuit, you must preserve any and all electronic information or evidence on your cell phone or computer. It is important that as soon as you select an attorney, you provide your attorney with any and all information or evidence on your cell phone or computer. If there is evidence or information on your cell phone or computer and you don’t take steps to preserve it, the consequences can be drastic.

In Pennsylvania, if any party alters or destroys evidence, including electronic evidence, the court may impose severe sanctions against that party. As long as a party either knew that a lawsuit was imminent or reasonably should have anticipated that a lawsuit would be filed, that party has a duty under the law to preserve any and all information or evidence concerning an accident. If a party fails to do so, despite knowing that a lawsuit is likely, the court may impose sanctions including, but not limited to, severe monetary sanctions or an “adverse inference instruction” to the jury at trial. An adverse inference instruction is when the court tells the jury that because a party altered or destroyed evidence, the jury is permitted to assume that whatever was altered or destroyed was damaging to that party’s case. An adverse inference instruction at trial is devastating to the party that altered or destroyed evidence. It is thus extremely important that any evidence or information related to your accident is immediately preserved and provided to your attorney.

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