Many years ago, when someone was injured, it was often difficult to piece together the evidence to see what really happened, and to determine who was liable for the injuries. Eye witnesses, sometimes with different opinions of how the injury occurred, or sometimes photographs, were often the best way to determine the facts of a case. When the difference between winning and losing a case can depend on what happened within inches or seconds, relying upon this kind of evidence to piece together the events of an injury could often be difficult.
Today, however, we have the always-present “eye in the sky”: the video camera. As you see on the evening news, cameras are almost everywhere. And, of course, everybody with a cell phone is potentially a walking videocamera. Just as video captures the events of the evening news, they also can capture what happened to you during your accident.
The Case Thrown Out Because of Video
A Federal Court in Maryland recently threw a victim’s case out of court, based solely on video cameras, in a case that illustrates how powerful–and legally persuasive–video recordings can be.
Tonya Hall was stepping out of a Washington Metro city bus, when she alleged that she fell when the driver started closing the doors on her. During the case, her deposition testimony was that she definitely was pushed by the bus doors, causing her to fall.
But of all places that there could be videotape, there was indeed a tape on the bus. At a hearing to throw out the case, the Court reviewed the tape. The Court felt, after reviewing the tape, that the victim had already started to fall on her own, independent of the doors, and that the doors, although they were closing, had nothing to do with her fall. Because of the tape, the victim’s case was thrown out of court.
The New Importance of Videotape
There are certainly many instances when videotape contradicts a victim’s testimony. That doesn’t mean that the victims in these cases are lying–injuries are traumatic, and often our brains perceive events as being differently than they actually occurred. Most victims simply try to remember the events as best they can, from what happened to them in an instant, while a court can sit and review a videotape frame by frame in slow motion for as long as it wants.
Still, the case illustrates how important video evidence has become. A court can review video on its own, and based on a court’s own interpretations of what it sees, throw out a case. All the victim testimony in the world may not overcome what’s on a simple tape.
Of course, a victim isn’t helpless where there’s videotape that shows something different than what the victim says happened. A good accident attorney would obtain the videotape long before trial, and be prepared to refute any evidence on it which contradicts the client’s claims. Often, the victim, in reviewing the video, can explain contradictions or problems that appear in it. Many videos are unclear, or are open to interpretation, so long as there’s time for the attorney to review them before trial.
And of course, just as video can hurt a victim, it can also help–many times a video supports what a victim says happened, which can lead to very significant settlements from liable parties.
If you’re injured in Maryland, you want attorneys that obtain and review the important pieces of evidence from the start. Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.