At ABRAMS LANDAU, we have been contacted by car crash and dog attack victims many months after their injuries. We sadly find out that the 911 tapes and other recordings that support their personal injury claims have been destroyed or recorded over. Our office sends out letters requesting copies of the tapes, films and other media so that our clients will have this valuable evidence. There are even cases that are brought for “spoliation” – where a Defendant has purposefully destroyed evidence that it knows has been requested in connection with an injury case. Bottom line, according to New Jersey dog attack and car crash lawyer Doug Landau is to make sure the evidence is preserved and to seek qualified, experienced legal counsel immediately, BEFORE valuable evidence is destroyed, lost or recorded over.
Garden State injury lawyer Landau is often asked if the police and other law enforcement authorities can destroy, tape over or otherwise dispose of video, audio and other recordings. The short answer is “yes.” Just this week, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled in a case where the police legally destroyed the police cruiser videotape. In State v. Mustaro, the court denied a DWI defendant’s attempt to withdraw his guilty plea, on the basis that he had been deprived of potentially exculpatory evidence in the form of a police car videotape which would have proved he was not operating his vehicle at the time of his motor vehicle stop. The police had destroyed the videotape as a matter of routine after the defendant’s initial plea of guilty. In analyzing the factors required under New Jersey law, the Court ruled that the lack of bad faith by the police in destroying the video, coupled with the speculative nature of the defendant’s claim of what was shown the video did not satisfy the test for withdrawal of a guilty plea. If you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident where there may be a 911 call, video tape, audio recording, computer e-mail, tape recording or other audio or video evidence, please e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU (703-796-9555)