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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.