How to implement a “Litigation Hold” after a catastrophic injury?

By Kevin Patrick|April 30, 2018|Articles

After a catastrophic injury (or really any other serious accident, like a truck wreck or commercial automobile accident) in Georgia counties, such as Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Decatur, it is important not only to have the at-fault party save certain information and documentation, but you should have them implement a “Litigation Hold” too. This term sounds a bit complex; however, we can help distill it for you and share with you some of our sample, language:

Routine Document Destruction Programs

Oftentimes, companies have systems in place that will get rid of documents every so-many days. Think about a surveillance feed at a restaurant or a hotel — It will usually overwrite every thirty days. You don’t want to let this happen in a catastrophic injury case in Georgia because you would lose valuable information about the accident itself and, ultimately, may not be able to prove your case without it. REMEMBER — A plaintiff has the burden of proof “beyond a preponderance of evidence” in a civil lawsuit in Georgia.

So here’s some sample language about what to say:

 Any routine document destruction programs (e.g., shredding or the recycling of backup tapes) must be discontinued immediately, and all hard copy files and electronically stored information that may be relevant, whether stored onsite or offsite, must be secured and preserved….  

Identifying Key Individuals

Another important consideration is having the at-fault company in Georgia to take the step of identifying/specifying employees, etc. that have the responsibility of keeping evidence and thus implementing the litigation hold. They can be record custodians, IT personnel, employees, officers, directors, and even legal counsel. The key is making sure the company doesn’t plead ignorance, i.e. “We didn’t know what to do,” and this type of letter basically tells the what to do.

Here’s some more sample language:

You are directed to identify all employees, personnel, and other persons who have access to potentially relevant documents, data, and information, and notify them in writing of the Litigation Hold…. 

Monitoring & Compliance

To close out the letter, please consider making sure that the company that caused the accident in Georgia knows to follow-up and be vigilant about the litigation hold. A great example — New employees don’t always know about accidents that may have happened before their hire date, but nevertheless, they may still need to do things in their current job withholding information about the accident. So let them know too!

A last bit of sample language:

You are further directed to monitor compliance with the Litigation Hold including periodic follow-ups with the Noticed Persons and notices to new employees regarding the Litigation Hold to ensure that documents, including ESI, are not destroyed inadvertently….

In sum, litigation holds are a very important part of building a personal injury case in Georgia, especially when it involves a serious injury. Our firm routinely sends them out, and make sure that you (or your attorney) do the same. It’s simply good practice.

Feel free to let us know if you have any more questions about catastrophic injuries or would like to see one of our full letters in cases. We’re here for you: or (404) 566-5880. Our personal injury cases have stretched throughout Georgia, and our offices are close to those of you in Brookhaven and Chamblee. Happy to travel to you too!

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