Three Ways Video Can Be Used – For or Against You – in Your Injury Case

Three Ways Video Can Be Used – For or Against You – in Your Injury Case

Sometimes it seems that every moment of modern life is captured on video. From amusing clips posted on YouTube, to surveillance cameras that can record a criminal act in progress, to police dash-cams that can show misconduct or incidents that can lead to protests, convictions, or changes in policy.

Given the powerful impact that a video can have, from laughter to disgust to shock to clarity, it’s no surprise that video now plays an increasingly prominent role in many personal injury cases. Showing a jury a short video that supports or undermines a claim, that demonstrates a complex or abstract concept, or that shows the impact that an injury has had on a victim can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of a personal injury case.

The three most common ways video is used in personal injury lawsuits are:

  1. Videos Made Specifically for Trial

Witness testimony about how much an injury has effected a plaintiff’s day-to-day life or how much pain the plaintiff is experiencing can be crucial to obtaining the damages sought. But in the end, they are just words; even with all the medical records and testimony on earth describing physical or emotional pain, a jury will still have to fill in the blanks in their minds about the real impact of the injury.

Compare that to a video shot showing how hard it is for the plaintiff to walk or to hug their child, or the struggle involved just to get into a car or out of bed.

Plaintiff’s will often produce such “day-in-the-life” videos to powerfully, clearly, and simply convey the realities of how the defendant’s conduct upended the plaintiff’s world, making the jury fully understand in ways that  they can relate to why the plaintiff should be compensated for such losses.

Similarly, a video may be created for a wrongful death lawsuit to show details about the victim’s life in an attempt to humanize and put a face on the devastating loss that their family has suffered.

  1. Videos Used for Impeachment

Before almost any witness takes the stand at a personal injury trial, they will have already had their deposition taken, with attorneys asking them questions under oath about their knowledge of the incident or injury in question. Depositions are always transcribed by a court reporter, but sometimes they are videotaped as well.

If, for example, a witness for the defense testifies at trial that a traffic light was green, but said at their deposition that the light was red, an attorney cross-examining the witness may “impeach” them with their contradictory deposition testimony, undermining their credibility.

If there is no video of the deposition, the attorney will use and read from the written transcript to impeach the witness. But an attorney reading back pages of testimony that the witness said months ago is simply less compelling that seeing a video of the contradictory testimony coming out of the witness’ mouth minutes after saying the opposite in court.

  1. Surveillance Videos

What video can giveth a plaintiff, it can also taketh away. A plaintiff who is claiming that they have suffered debilitating injuries that limit their mobility or ability to function day-to-day may find themselves unknowingly under the watchful video eye of insurance companies and defense attorneys who have hired investigators to conduct surveillance in the hope of obtaining evidence that will contradict the plaintiff’s claims.

If, for example, a plaintiff who is claiming that they are in constant pain and can barely move is caught on a video dancing the night away or lifting heavy boxes, that video can be shown at trial with catastrophic effect on the plaintiff’s ability to obtain compensation.

At Greening Law, P.C., the strategic use of video at trial is just one of the many ways we provide aggressive, compassionate and experienced representation for personal injury victims in Dallas and throughout Texas. Please give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Post at Your Own Risk: How Social Media Can Torpedo Your Personal Injury Case

Post at Your Own Risk: How Social Media Can Torpedo Your Personal Injury Case

Loose lips may sink ships, but thoughtless posts on social media can torpedo your personal injury case.

Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or whatever next year’s big new social media site may be, your posts, photos, comments, and videos can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Stakeouts Replaced By Searches

Think about what you post online: it can reflect your moods and show where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. If you were the person being sued or their insurance company and you were looking to undermine the plaintiff’s claims, wouldn’t you look for whatever evidence you could find, especially if it was as easy as clicking a mouse to find it?

For a long time, defense lawyers and insurers have used investigators to try to find evidence that a claimant’s injuries were either non-existent or not as serious as they claimed. They would stake out a plaintiff or follow him or her around, hoping to capture them engaging in activities that someone in immense pain or who claims they are unable to work or move around would not be doing.

All of those long hours on the streets spent trying to capture such evidence can now take a matter of minutes with a laptop. Insurance companies and defense lawyers look at plaintiffs’ social media posts as a matter of course now. They will see what you post and what your friends may post about you.

You may be seeking damages for your pain and suffering or lost wages from being unable to do your job but you post pictures on your Facebook page of you dancing the night away or laughing it up. Or your friend tweets something about how drunk you were that night you got in the accident. Imagine being on the witness stand and being confronted with that.

Your Privacy Settings Won’t Protect You

You may think that because you’ve set up your privacy settings in a way that would keep strangers from seeing your posts means you’re in the clear. You would be wrong.

Courts have held that defense lawyers can request access to photos and information even if a plaintiff has a “private” page.

For example, in one federal court case, the judge ruled that a personal injury plaintiff’s post on his private Facebook page could be obtained by the defense because:

“[M]aterial posted on a “private” Facebook page, that is accessible to a selected group of recipients, but not available for viewing the general public, is generally not privileged, nor is it protected by common law or civil law notions of privacy.” 

Tompkins v. Detroit Metropolitan Airport, 278 F.R.D. 387, 388 (E.D. Mich. 2012)

My advice to clients involved in a personal injury lawsuit is to avoid making any posts on social media at all. If that is too tall an order, they shouldn’t post anything about their injuries or their accident or anything that could appear to contradict any of the claims they are making. Otherwise, that amusing Facebook post won’t seem so funny when a jury finds in favor of the defendant.

How The Apple Watch Might Help Your Case

How The Apple Watch Might Help Your Case

How The Apple Watch Might Help Your Case 1All legal matters require evidence in order for a decision to be made. This is because in nearly every case the parties have a different version of the facts, and the Judge or jury must be able to look at all the information available and make their own determination as to what happened. Evidence historically has come in the form of eyewitness testimony, photos, doctor reports and diagnoses, deposition testimony, or paper documentation. However, with advances in technology, other forms of evidence have recently found their way to the Courtroom.

Reports on use of social media in criminal and family law cases are common, and now the trend may extend to personal injury cases. Of particular concern is the new Apple watch. While a fascinating technological advance, one has to wonder how long it will be before the data from the watch will be used as evidence in a Court of law. For plaintiffs, the information could be vital, and beneficial to the case:

● The data stored on the watch may contain the date and time the wearer sent a text. If close in time to an accident, this information could be used to establish causation and negligence.

● This data may replace the need for a recreation of the accident scene, or the need to hunt down witnesses.

● It will be important to make sure the information is authenticated, and thus considered reliable. When in doubt, resort to use of traditional forms of evidence would be required.

Because the Apple watch is relatively new, and because most new technology experiences glitches after first hitting the market, its use should be limited to cases where there is little other evidence to offer. We will review your case and identify which forms of evidence fit your facts the best, and then aggressively pursue all remedies available.

If you have questions about what type of evidence is best for your personal injury case, attorney Robert Greening has the answers.  Call a Dallas, Texas personal injury attorney today.