Spoliation refers to the destruction or failure to preserve evidence that is necessary to contemplate or pending litigation. In the context of a slip and fall case, this most often involves alerting the store and insurance company to the presence of litigation. Under a recent Supreme Court decision in Georgia, the court can find a duty to preserve evidence when the litigation is “reasonable foreseeably” to the party in control of the evidence, even if the party is not on notice of a specific claim. While most injured folks tend to think about whether there is any videotape which depicts the fall, there are also a number of other things that we have found relevant. We include these areas and document requests in a cover letter and fax it and send it certified mail to the premises owner and the insurance company so that no one can claim they never received a copy down the road. What we typically request and why:
All videotapes or other visual or audio recordings taken at the subject premises on the day of the incident, including but not limited to all recordings of the area where the claimant was injured. We always ask for video not depicting just the incident, but also for the full day prior. Often times, a defendant store owner will claim that they inspected the area just prior to the claimant’s fall in what may seem like a reasonable time frame. In reality, the videotape may show a completely different story. We have handled multiple cases where the property owner claimed an inspection was done, but there was no evidence of the inspection on the videotape. This is good for two reasons: (1) gives you evidence to prevent the property owner from filing a motion to kick the case out; and (2) catch the property owner in a fib. No jury likes to see anyone fibbing, whether that is a plaintiff or a defendant. If they think you are, they will hold you accountable.
All photographs of the area where Plaintiff was injured, and any and all other photographs of the subject premises, including any photographs taken as a result of the subject incident. It is always good to request photographs of the area where the claimant was injured, but also from the perspective of damages. Often times an employee will document blood found at the scene or a picture of individual grimacing in pain. This is important down the road, especially when the property owner’s lawyers inevitably claim that you are faking or exaggerating your injuries. All incident reports pertaining to the subject incident and any other incident involving slip and falls at the store for the previous five (5) years.
This is important because it has the potential to develop a piece of evidence which might prove critical down the road. For example, if the store has five prior slip and fall incidents due to a pool of water in front of the meat cooler in the previous two weeks, this is information which you would like to know.
All written or recorded statements of the Plaintiff.
Many times a potential client will call me after they have spoken with the insurance company. I want to make sure we have a copy of the statement in order to make sure that there are no critical admissions.
The entire employment file for any and all employees who worked on the day of the incident (payroll and medical information may be withheld or redacted).
Many times lots of these folks will no longer be employed by the property owner. Former employees can be very helpful not only on exactly what happened but in determining what sort of culture the property owner promoted.
Any and all maintenance and/or cleaning contracts between the store owner and any other entity for the subject premises.
When we file a lawsuit, we want to make sure that we have all the appropriate parties named. In the event that the property owner turns around and blames a cleaning company for the injuries, we want to know who that cleaning company is sooner as opposed to later.
Any and all notes, memoranda, minutes and all other written evidence of safety meetings held at the subject premises for the past five (5) years.
Is the area where you were injured a frequent topic at any safety meetings, and if so, what has been done about it?
Any and all maintenance and inspection records and reports for the subject area for the day of the incident and for the one (1) year preceding the day of the incident.
We always include a request for not only inspection but also the maintenance records as well.
Call an Atlanta Slip and Fall Attorney
If you have been injured in an Atlanta slip and fall, contact Ponton Law today. He has the experience to handle your claim from start to finish, and ensure that you obtain the compensation that you deserve.