Threats Of Legal Action, In Any Form, Can Hurt Your Case
It’s a natural reaction. Something bad happened to you. You get hurt while on another’s personal or business property like slipping and falling at the supermarket. You’ve had to go to the hospital, undergo tests and treatment, and you’re in pain. But the supermarket isn’t taking your claim seriously. You’re getting the run-around and no assistance with your treatment. So you burst out – “That’s it! I’m calling my lawyer & I’m going to take you for everything you are worth!” It feels good, doesn’t it? Justice will prevail and you will make these guys pay for their negligence. But… you may have just damaged your case in two ways.
Prepared In Anticipation Of Litigation Once the business owner can document that you threatened to get an attorney involved or force them to compensate you for your injuries, all investigations into your complaint that the business does from that moment forward can be kept from you and your attorney. The reason is that the business is now performing its investigations under the threat of being sued. Under the law, the business has a very strong argument, and your earlier words have now made it harder and more expensive to access necessary evidence and to prove your case.
Managed Evidence You want to believe a well-known, large, legitimate business will just do what is right, but it is sad and too often found that video, written and other evidence around your situation disappears or is sanitized. Often, certain businesses have been sued so often, that those people with control know how to make sure the record going forward stays as clean as possible starting when that first threat of litigation comes up. They can avoid questioning potential witnesses, avoid writing reports that company policy says should be written. The record becomes cleaner and cleaner over time. Jotted notes on paper become neatly typed reports. Spills get cleaned up. Uneven pavement becomes smooth. Witnesses remember things more clearly – in favor of the business. Once a potential defendant knows a lawsuit is coming, they start to prepare. This preparation includes making sure their employees get the story “right” – The floor was dry, the cans were neatly stacked, the plaintiff was playing Pokemon Go on her phone when she tripped. Videos get copied over. An internal audit report might leave out warnings from other customers about an unsafe condition.
One example is where a woman dies from an infection she contracted in a nursing home, because she was stabbed with an unsanitary needle. The woman’s husband happened to be present at the time and protested to the point where his words were found to be a legal threat. When the medical records from the nursing home were produced, there was no mention of the needle in the nurse’s typed report. No mention at all. There was no requisition for a needle in the pharmacist’s typed report. The hand-written notes from the nurse were too illegible to be useful at trial. All the attorney had to go by were the words of the widower-husband. The nursing home was startled into action by the husband’s threat of litigation, and their records became “clean” of incriminating information. These tactics are borderline illegal and may violate rules of discovery preservation, but risk
management personnel are skilled, and sometimes defense attorneys cross the line, at coaching witnesses to use key words, avoid incriminating statements, and make your case look as bad as possible. Don’t give that business the chance to white-wash your case. Speak to an attorney before threatening
Litigation, in any form, against a potential defendant. Your attorney will be able to make first contact with the defendant in a way that forces them to preserve evidence and minimize the coaching of witnesses. Your attorney can monitor the defendants (to an extent) and invoke the powers of the court to make sure evidence rules are followed and evidence is preserved. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to take responsibility for their actions. Don’t let your frustration with the lack of attention you are getting from the business owner where you were hurt damage your case. Call the Law Office Of Sidney Weinstein, 24/7, at 404-522-3108 for a free consultation before get angry to determine your rights and to pursue all legal remedies for your personal injuries and damages. We can come to you at your home or any of the Atlanta, Georgia area hospitals including Grady Memorial Hospital and Atlanta Medical Center.