Spoliation of Evidence & Indiana Medical Malpractice Claims

This month we covered the story of an Indiana mother who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Howard Community Hospital for acts of negligence during and after the birth of her son. In addition to the Indiana medical malpractice charge, the mother also put forth that the hospital either lost or destroyed some of her son’s medical records – evidence that would have possibly proven their negligence. The latter accusation is called spoliation of evidence in the legal world.

What is spoliation of evidence? Very simply, spoliation of evidence occurs either when a person or entity intentionally destroys, hides, alters, or withholds information that is important to a lawsuit or trial or when they lose or are negligent with potential evidence. In some cases, a spoliation inference can be made by the court; that is, a court might find that because someone took the time and effort to destroy or alter evidence it is reasonable to conclude that there was something significant to hide.

The above medical malpractice case is a good example of spoliation inference: the court believes that since the hospital either lost or destroyed key evidence regarding the baby’s medical care during its first days of life, it is therefore reasonable to believe that the hospital had something to hide. In this case, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that a cause of action existed separately from the medical malpractice claim for failure to maintain these records and that the hospital had breached its duty to maintain records state law.

Have you been the victim of a medical error or surgical mistake in Indiana, and believe that your doctor or hospital has destroyed or altered your medical records? If that is indeed the case, you may require a medical malpractice attorney with the experience and knowledge to handle such a case. Contact Keller & Keller LLP today to schedule a confidential, no-obligation meeting today.
James R. Keller
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