One of the most critical parts of a Florida personal injury lawsuit is the pre-trial discovery process. During pre-trial discovery, parties can request relevant information from the other side. If the court approves a request for discovery, the court will order that the evidence is passed to the opposing party, regardless of whether that evidence is favorable to the other side or whether the side in possession of the evidence plans to use it at trial.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, preserving all evidence – even unfavorable evidence – is of critical importance in a Florida personal injury lawsuit. Under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, parties have an obligation to preserve evidence as soon as litigation is “reasonably anticipated.” Thus, a party’s obligation to preserve evidence may arise before a lawsuit is filed. A party’s failure to preserve relevant evidence is referred to as “spoliation.”
Under Rule 1.380 of the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure, a court can impose sanctions on a party that was found to have violated a discovery order. Examples of a violation of a discovery order include refusing to answer a question in a deposition or responding with an evasive or incomplete answer. The sanctions a court can impose range in seriousness, but can include the outright dismissal of a claim or default judgment being entered against a party.