What is a Preservation Letter?
The first thing you should do after getting into an accident is to see a medical professional. That will be the first thing on your mind and you may not even think about gathering evidence for a personal injury case. You might not even realize you have a case against the other driver until after you've recovered from your injuries in the hospital.
These kinds of personal injury cases can be difficult because the other driver can easily lie about what happened from their perspective. It is crucial to preserve any evidence that can help your case because of this reason alone. This is why having a preservation letter drafted up and sent out to the other driver is very important. Let's take a look at what a preservation letter is and what it can do to help your case.
How can a preservation letter help your case?
Evidence to prove your personal injury case will most often be in the hands of the defendant. A good example of this is a video for a slip and fall case being in the hands of the store where you slipped and fell. The store has that evidence and could very well destroy it before you have a chance to get your hands on it as evidence of your case. This is exactly why a preservation letter can come in handy for your case.
What is a preservation letter?
A preservation letter is a notice given to the defendant that you can send as the injured person to ask that they preserve any evidence they have. This letter shouldn't be unreasonable but can be used to ask that they preserve any video, photographs, witness statements, or other types of evidence.
These letters can be used in car accident cases to ask the defendant to preserve their vehicle until you have a chance to inspect and photograph the vehicle. In tractor trailer accidents, these letters can include any evidence when it comes to the driver's log and other types of records.
The preservation letter should be sent to the defendant instead of the insurance company or other folks working on the case. However, you can copy the letter to them as well.
What if the defendant still destroys the evidence?
If the defendant destroys the evidence you asked them to preserve even after the letter was received, you can get what is called an "instruction" that is read to the jury. What this instruction does is tell the jury that the evidence was in the defendant's control and the defendant destroyed the evidence. The jury can assume from the instruction that this evidence would have hurt the defendant's case.
You can also keep a copy of the letter you sent so you can have proof that you sent it out. You can get this proof by certified mail with the return receipt requested. It's great to have an attorney early on in this process, especially if you have evidence that needs to be preserved. It wouldn't hurt your case to have you write the preservation letter yourself instead of asking a lawyer to do it, however.
Greenville and Washington, NC Personal Injury Attorneys
I’m Brian Ricci, a Personal Injury Lawyer serving Greenville, NC and the surrounding areas. If you have suffered an injury, please call me anytime at (252) 752-7785 or (800) 387-6406 for free, friendly advice. The call is free and there is no obligation to you.
I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.