In this day and age, video cameras are everywhere. Most businesses have security camera systems and I’d venture to say that just about every mobile phone now has a video camera function. Like it or not, you are being recorded almost everywhere you go.
A quick internet search on YouTube will turn up hundreds of thousands of events captured by everyday people who are bystanders or witnesses to events. People record everything. Have you been to a concert recently? Ever notice the number of people who stand holding their cell phones up in the air to record the concert rather than enjoy the moment?
What does this have to do with court cases and litigation? Well, they say “a picture speaks a thousand words” so imagine the effect that a video has when it is played for the jury during a trial, especially if the video captures sound. If you were a juror, wouldn’t you rather have a video of an incident to watch than to look at a series of still photographs? Of course you would!
A video can either make or break a case. As a personal injury lawyer Memphis, TN comes to time and again for legal advice, here are a couple of things to keep in mind in today’s video savvy society:
(1) Always assume you are being recorded, and act accordingly. Not much goes undocumented these days. Don’t let a moment of bad judgment ruin your reputation, or in the context of litigation, your entire case.
(2) Beware of surveillance by private investigators. Attorneys often hire private investigators to obtain video surveillance of a person of interest. For example, a defense lawyer might hire an investigator to follow an injured person around for a few days and film him or her to try to show that the person is exaggerating their injuries for purposes of the lawsuit. Another example might be that a divorce lawyer hires an investigator to capture video surveillance of a cheating spouse.
One Example of How Video Surveillance Footage Has Been Used in Court
- A personal injury victim (the Plaintiff) claimed that after the accident, she “really couldn’t do anything because everything bothered” her. She stated she could not walk a lot, stand too long, cook as often, bend, stand straight up after sitting, and that she does not use stairs. She also stated that she limped and dragged her leg for 3-4 years after the accident and was still not active by the time of the trial 7 years later. The Defendant presented video surveillance of the Plaintiff which showed her running errands around town and getting into and out of her car, walking in and out of various locations, walking in high heels, standing around talking with a friend, and getting into and out of her large SUV without difficulty. The judge allowed the video over the Plaintiff’s objection because it was relevant to the Plaintiff’s credibility, her symptoms, and the effects of the injury.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience fighting for injury victims in Tennessee.