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Chain of custody in drunk driving accident lawsuits

When it comes to the law, the civil and the criminal sides often operate according to different rules. However, in some instances, the rules apply to both. This is critical, as having a full understanding of what are otherwise considered criminal matters can be powerful in a civil lawsuit. One of the better examples of when this interplay can be important is in cases where the chain of custody may become an issue.

The chain of custody refers to the practices and documentation utilized to properly care for evidence. Broadly speaking, the chain of custody must account for the location of a piece of evidence at all times, from seizure to presentation in court. Any gaps in the chain of custody could jeopardize a claim, as a defense attorney could claim that there is no assurance that the evidence has not been contaminated or tampered with.

This can come into play during a personal injury lawsuit arising out of a drunk driving accident. If a blood sample was taken to determine blood alcohol content, for example, then establishing the chain of custody and getting the test results admitted in court may be crucial to show that a driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident and that the intoxication caused the accident. Therefore, it is critical that civil plaintiffs know how to handle chain of custody issues, lest they risk foregoing the compensation to which they may be entitled.

Chain of custody issues can affect many different types of evidence and highlights only one evidentiary issue that may arise during the course of a lawsuit. All of these matters need to be prepared for and adequately addressed when they arise. Properly doing so will increase the chances that an individual will get key evidence admitted and damaging evidence suppressed.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Suppress Evidence," accessed on Oct. 14, 2016

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