What is a Preservation Letter?
When you or a loved one is in a Georgia truck accident, bike wreck, fatal accident, shooting, brain injury accident, or any other serious accident, one of the first steps your lawyer should take is sending a “preservation letter” or “preservation demand.” This is a formal letter that notifies the potential defendant that you plan to file a claim for the Atlanta bike wreck, for example, and what documents and other items the defendant is required to keep. The reason a preservation letter is so important is that, generally speaking, a person is not required to maintain documents unless they have received notice of a claim.
Because we want to be sure that all the relevant evidence is preserved for our clients, one of the first steps that we take in any case is identifying the potential defendant, identifying the potential relevant items that they may possess, and sending a certified letter to the defendant stating that our client plans to file suit and the documents that we want preserved. The letter should be sent certified mail, so you can prove it was received. Once the letter is received, Georgia law requires that the relevant items be preserved. Baxley v. Hakiel Indus., 282 Ga. 312 (2007). If the item is not preserved and the circumstances warrant it, the Court can sanction (or punish) the person for failing to maintain the evidence. These punishments can even include striking of the answer, if the actions are egregious.
In our opinion, the preservation letter should be limited to the items that you really believe need be preserved. Some attorneys throw everything in but the kitchen sink. However, these kitchen-sink preservation requests are often unreasonable and, thus, it will be difficult to prove to a court that your unreasonable request was not complied with.
Here is an example list of items that we requested be preserved in a Atlanta fatal car accident. As you can see, the request is limited to the date of the accident, the vehicle, and the person involved. We also had information in this case that the defendant had posted key information on social media moments before the crash. Tailoring your request to the facts of your case is key in sending a good request for preservation.
….Please preserve the following materials:
- any and all videos for the date of March 28, 2016;
- the Dodge Magnum vehicle being driven by you at the time of the incident;
- any and all photographs for the date of March 28, 2016, including but not limited photographs of you, your vehicle, the injured persons, and/or of any person that supplied you with alcohol;
- your Facebook page, Facebook profile, Facebook videos, Facebook photographs for March 28, 2016;
- any and all of your social media accounts for March 28, 2016;
- any and all documents related to purchases of alcohol on March 28, 2016, including but not limited to receipts;
- any and all documents which would show alcohol purchased by or given to you on March 28, 2016;
- any and all documents which would show the name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), credit card information, or any other identifying information for person(s) who purchased alcohol for or on behalf of you on March 28, 2016;
- any and all documents which would show the name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), credit card information, or any other identifying information for person(s) who supplied you with the black Dodge Magnum;
- any and all documents which would show the name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), credit card information, or any other identifying information for person(s) who owned the black Dodge Magnum being driven by you at the time of the above-referenced accident;
- any and all documents or items that would show or relate to any information about the alcohol, drugs, or other liquids consumed by you on March 28, 2016;
- any and all employment records for you for your employer on March 28, 2016, including but not limited to your full and complete employment file;
- any and all documents reflecting communications on March 28, 2016, including but not limited to text messages, voicemails, and/or cell phone records.
- any and all documents reflecting communications relating in any way to the above-referenced automobile accident including but not limited to text messages, voicemails, and/or cell phone records.
- any and all other documents which may be related in any way to the above-referenced claims; and,
- any and all medical records resulting from your treatment after the Incident of March 28, 2016, including but not limited to the results of any alcohol or drug test.
If you are in an Atlanta fatal accident, truck crash, bike accident, scooter wreck, or any other accident resulting in serious injury, you should contact a reputable attorney quickly to ensure that all relevant evidence is preserved. At our firm, we provide free consultations. We practice throughout Georgia, including Gainesville, Columbus, Savannah, Albany, Macon, Decatur, Augusta, Athens, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Johns Creek, Warner Robbins, Alpharetta, Marietta, Smyrna, Dunwoody, Peachtree City, East Point, Newnan, Douglasville, Kennesaw, LaGrange, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Acworth, Cartersville, Snellville, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, DeKalb County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Henry County, Richmond County, Muscogee County, Hall County, Forsyth County, Bibb County, Paulding County, Douglas County, Coweta County, and Clarke County.