Personal injuries can be physically and mentally painful, so when someone withholds evidence that would support your case, the overall incident could feel infinitely worse. For example, regardless of how well you mind your own business, you could potentially encounter an aggressive dog while out running errands, visiting a friend or playing at the park. And while it is common for a dog to protect his owner and property, sometimes a dog will bite a person for no known reason. But if you suffer from a dog bite, you may have the right to recover damages.
The same goes if you are injured in a car accident, slip and fall at a retail store or sustain an injury from a defective product. Personal injury laws provide compensation for those injured by someone else's negligence or recklessness, but what laws govern the opposing party’s evidence?
Intentional spoliation of evidence
Since 1993, Ohio residents have had the opportunity to exercise their options in cases where someone interfered with or destroyed evidence in a legal dispute. In Smith v. Howard Johnson Co., Inc., the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that such a case could include matters pertaining to a defendant’s knowledge of probable litigation and destroying evidence in order to disrupt a plaintiff’s case.
However, in the 2018 case of Elliott-Thomas v. Smith, that option was reversed. “Allegations of intentional interference with or concealment of evidence” are no longer considered. That said, attorneys are required to provide fairness to the opposing party during a legal course of action.
What can you do?
Even in the absence of laws regarding supportive evidence, or the lack thereof, there are certain steps you can take to protect your rights in matters of personal injury. These may include:
- Photos – If you’re able to do so, take photos of the dog who bit you or of the site of your accident or injury.
- Police report – Involving the police is a good step to take immediately following an accident or injury. If you decide to take action, you could find an officer’s documentation to be helpful in proving your case.
- Medical documentation – Your medical records can help prove your injury allegations and support your request for damages.
For a law to change is nothing new. But regardless of what a court might rule at any given point in time, you still have rights. If another person injures you, or a dog owner’s negligence causes you harm, you may be able to hold them accountable.
In some cases, a dog owner might try to withhold information about their pet’s breed or previous acts of aggression. But keeping track of the details surrounding your injury can help you if the need arises, no matter how others may choose to handle themselves.