These days, video cameras are everywhere. Retail establishments have customers under surveillance at almost all points inside their stores. Busy intersections have cameras that survey traffic going by. And millions of people have video cameras right on their phones that are with them at all times. In fact, one recent estimate indicates that an average person in the U.S. is on camera 75 times a day.
With all that video around, it makes sense that many slip-and-fall and other personal accidents are captured. In addition, other types of video can be used to educate a jury about the accident and situation leading up to it. But does video evidence make it any easier to win a personal injury lawsuit?
If there is a closed circuit TV system in the retail store where you had your accident, what happened should be caught on video. It's the store's responsibility to keep any record of an accident on its premises, but if you didn't inform store personnel about your injury right away, the store's system may record over it within a day or two. That's why it's important to let someone at the store, like a manager, know about the incident immediately -- and why you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you can.
Store video can often show exactly what happened, and it may be clear enough that the store will settle with you rather than go to court at all. However, the store may not have to disclose it immediately if you are filing a lawsuit. Depending on the state, a judge may require court depositions to be taken first, so that you can't alter your story to correspond to the video.
If a third party has taken video of an accident (such as an individual with a smartphone), you should request a copy as soon as possible, or at least get the full contact information for the person who took the video. Your lawyer can take the necessary steps to get a copy of the footage. Until you have a copy though, you can't rely on an individual to provide the video -- it could get lost or deleted. If law enforcement is involved at the time of the accident, you can request that the person's information and video be included in the police report, but otherwise you may not be able to guarantee that you'll get to use the smartphone video as evidence.
Actual video evidence of your accident can often help you win your case -- or at least make the other side settle with you rather than show it in court.
Many courts record depositions on video that can then be shown in the courtroom as necessary. You as the injured party and any witnesses are usually deposed by video so that it can be shown and a transcript can be created and provided when needed to both sides in the case. This won't win a case outright, but a convincing explanation of what happened can be influential.
It may sound a little corny, but having a video depicting what happened during the accident -- even if actual video doesn't exist -- can help jury members understand exactly what took place. Your attorney can determine whether making such a video can be beneficial and how it should be done.
Not all video evidence is admissible in court. You aren't guaranteed to win your lawsuit if you have video, but it can be a powerful tool in communicating to those in the case about what happened. Talk to your personal injury attorney for more information about using video in your case.
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