Chain of custody and physical evidence

Pennsylvania residents who have been injured in a truck accident will need to rely on evidence if they want to pursue a personal injury claim against the truck driver who harmed them and that truck driver’s employer. After all, for many truck accident victims, winning on one of these claims is the only way to recover compensation for damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Yet, although it may seem relatively easy to gather and present evidence in a persuasive fashion, the rules of evidence, trial and case law can make the matter rather complex.

For example, in some situations it may become necessary to put on evidence establishing a chain of custody for a particular piece of evidence. “Chain of custody” is the procedure by which evidence is collected and cared for. Most commonly chain of custody issues can arise in the criminal context, but they can also present problems in a civil case.

For example, in a case that involves a truck driver who is accused of being drunk behind the wheel and thereby causing an accident that injured the plaintiff, it may be important to submit evidence of a positive alcohol screen following the accident. However, before that test can be submitted into evidence, a plaintiff will likely need to put forth evidence regarding how that sample was collected and how it was tested. This is to ensure that the evidence is what it purports to be.

Failing to establish a satisfactory chain of custody could lead to evidence being excluded from evidence. This is just one example of why it is important to ensure that you know the legal procedures that are necessary to protect your best interests.