Aren’t these lawyers jumping the gun a little bit? Just a couple of weeks ago, a Megabus crashed into a concrete pillar on its way to St. Louis. One passenger was killed and 47 others were hurt. At the time, the crash was blamed on a blown tire. No other causes or contributing factors have yet been discovered. However, that hasn’t stopped the Megabus lawsuits, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Attorneys for the plaintiffs are blaming shoddy maintenance and speeding.
Why are the lawyers so eager? No, the answer is not a lawyer joke. It’s preservation of evidence.
In cases like the Megabus lawsuits, evidence can often be lost or destroyed after a period of time. The bus and other pieces of evidence are currently being studied by the Illinois State Police to determine whether the crash was, in fact, caused by a blown tire. After the investigation is finished, the evidence will presumably be returned to Megabus and eventually destroyed.
Last week, two judges granted protective orders that will allow experts hired by two of the attorneys representing passengers on the bus to analyze the evidence. They will be able to inspect the bus in its current condition, as well as analyze maintenance procedures, personnel records, driver schedules, and any data and video recordings to try to find any other contributing factors. The orders also require that the evidence be preserved until the legal proceedings have run their course.
The evil that the orders seek to prevent — spoliation — occurs when one party fails to preserve evidence in a case. If one party, through negligence or worse, allows evidence to be lost or destroyed, the remedy is often a presumption that the destroyed evidence would have hurt their case. Jurors would then be instructed to assume that the evidence would have hurt the party that spoliated it. If the conduct is truly egregious, such as violating a court’s protective order and destroying the evidence completely, some courts have even ordered a verdict in favor of the other party.
So yeah, the lawyers are moving quickly by filing multiple Megabus lawsuits. But there is good reason to do so.
- Speak to a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- 3 lawsuits filed after deadly I-55 Megabus crash (St. Louis’ KMOV-TV)
- Potential Jail Time For Electronic Discovery Abuse and Spoliation of Evidence (FindLaw’s Technologist)
- Spinal Surgery Spoils NY Woman’s Lawsuit (FindLaw’s Injured)
Megabus Lawsuits Filed, But Investigation is Far from Over