Sometimes the worlds of criminal and civil law coincide. One area where this may occur is when a victim has filed a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois against a drunk driver. The defendant may have faced criminal charges for the incident, but the result of that case does not necessarily have an effect on the outcome of the civil lawsuit. However, the victim may try to use evidentiary tactics in an attempt to establish that the defendant was negligent, his or her negligence caused the accident in question and that accident resulted in the victim's damages.
One strategy the prosecution in a drunk driving lawsuit may try is to admit samples that were submitted for toxicological testing, such as blood tests. However, in order for blood test results to be admitted into evidence, a plaintiff must satisfactorily establish the chain of custody.
The chain of custody is the process by which evidence or documentation is cared and stored from its initial collection to it presentation at trial. A gap in the chain of custody could lead to the evidence being suppressed. In other words, if the chain of custody is improperly laid out, then powerful evidence could be disallowed from being used against the defendant. The chain of custody is a way to ensure that a trial is fair and that evidence has not been manipulated to pose an advantage to one side over the other.
Evidentiary issues like this come up all the time in civil lawsuits, which is why those considering pursuing legal action need to know what they are doing. Oftentimes, acquiring the assistance of a knowledgeable and skilled attorney can prove beneficial in one's fight for compensation.
Source: FindLaw, "How to Suppress Evidence," accessed on Sep. 3, 2016