Preserving Evidence After A New Mexico Trucking Accident
The main question in a New Mexico truck injury case is whether or not the truck driver was acting negligently at the time of the crash. Evidence is of paramount importance in a New Mexico truck injury case, so courts impose a duty on both sides to preserve any evidence as soon as a lawsuit seems likely.
What Are the Facts of the Case?
In one recent case, the court found that the wife of the plaintiff was killed in a trucking crash after her vehicle hydroplaned on the road. Apparently, the storm drain meant to drain excess water on the road was clogged, so the plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the city.
The vehicle in question was towed to a scrapyard after the crash. At first, the scrapyard contacted the plaintiff for the payment of storage fees, but their attorney later arranged an in-person meeting. Despite efforts made by the plaintiff’s lawyer to maintain a connection with the scrapyard, the vehicle was ultimately destroyed.
The city -- as the defendant -- requested the court impose sanctions against the plaintiff for failing to preserve the vehicle. According to the city, the cause of the crash was not the collected water on the road, but a defect in the vehicle. Without the car, it was impossible to present a defense.
The court denied the city’s request for sanctions and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed to trial. The court argued that both the plaintiff and their attorney were diligent in arranging for the vehicle’s storage, and the destruction of the vehicle was not caused by negligence on part of the plaintiff. Therefore, sanctions weren’t appropriate.
Spoliation of Evidence
Courts in New Mexico are allowed to impose sanctions on whoever fails to preserve relevant evidence. An adverse inference is a common sanction, which is basically an instruction from the judge informing the jury that they can infer that, had any evidence been preserved, it would have disfavored the party that failed to preserve it. Under New Mexico case law, courts consider the following when determining if an adverse inference instruction is appropriate:
- Whether the spoliation was intentional.
- Whether the likelihood a lawsuit was reasonably foreseeable at the time the evidence was destroyed.
- Whether the evidence was relevant to an issue in the case.
- Whether the party requesting the instruction was diligent regarding the evidence.
New Mexico Trucking Accidents
Accidents involving large vehicles can be catastrophic. In most cases, innocent victims suffer from life-threatening injuries that often have farreaching consequences. More than 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving commercial vehicles in 2018. Injured parties should consult with a qualified New Mexico trucking injury lawyer to discuss their case.
At Will Ferguson & Associates, we believe in helping those unfairly injured in a crash. We have a proven track record helping those who’ve been injured by a negligent truck driver. Call us today at (505) 243-5566 to see what we can do for your case.