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Can Video Surveillance and Audio Tapes Be Used in Personal Injury Cases?

Posted on June 25, 2018

With modern technology, the ability to produce photos, video, and audio recordings is in almost anyone’s hands. These developments mean it’s much easier now to produce surveillance footage than before, which can have an impact on trials of all kinds. In a personal injury case, recorded evidence can determine who is at fault in the accident or establish exaggerated injury on the fault of the victim.

Determining Who Is at Fault

Personal injury cases arise when an injured party claims someone else is responsible for the accident that caused their injuries. With compensation on the line in these trials, it is critical for both sides to prove who is at fault for the accident. When accounts of the incident differ, an impartial video or photo can provide a definitive account of events.

However, some cases will not move to a video account of the incident without going through every other possible avenue for information first. The court may prioritize testimonies from witnesses before allowing surveillance materials to come forward. Attorneys may use recordings or photos to argue for their side of the case.

Establishing Exaggerated Injury

Any accident that results in injury is a rough experience for the victim, and it’s understandable to want compensation. However, some people may exaggerate the scale of their injuries to get a larger amount of compensation within a trial.

An attorney or insurance adjustor involved with the trial may record evidence that shows the victim acting outside of the logical scope of their injuries. As an example, if a victim claims trouble walking but a video shows him or her out for a run, this evidence could prove the injuries are not as severe as he or she claims, possibly reducing or nullifying the victim’s claim.

Any collections of footage must be within the scope of a law. An investigating insurance company may not conduct surveillance by spying on the victim in their private property. However, recordings and photos made in public spaces are valid as evidence. Any audio may need muted if recorded without consent.

Other methods of surveillance to establish an exaggerated injury can involve:

  • Photos, videos, and posts on public social media
  • Interviews of those close to the victim, such as friends, family members, and neighbors

If evidence shows the victim is exaggerating injuries, it can throw his or her claim’s credibility into question. However, the victim’s lawyer can challenge such presented surveillance and attempt to refute claims against their client.

Using Surveillance Evidence

Some courts may require both parties share surveillance footage between each other within a reasonable amount of time before the trial for use in court. Sharing footage allows both sides fair access to evidence and prevents the chance of any tampering with the footage.

This rule is especially critical for footage of the incident, as its primary use is establishing fault. Courts can also have specifications on the timing of presenting such evidence to the courtroom so that it does not interfere with any testimonies or accounts on the parts of witnesses.

Surveillance gained through subterfuge may also be invalid, even if it is relevant to the case. Voice recordings taken without permission and any surveillance done that violates the victim’s privacy are some examples of dismissible evidence through subterfuge.

Video surveillance, good or bad, is the new normal in our current digital age. Requirements for surveillance footage in courts will vary depending on the kind of case, how someone acquired the footage, and access for both parties, among other things. To determine whether video surveillance is admissible in your particular case, discuss it with a Birmingham personal injury attorney.