New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

Presenting Photographic Evidence in Accident Cases  

Posted on Oct 26, 2014 in Car Accidents

Usually in court, the plaintiff’s lawyer will want to present new photographic evidence to the court, and the defense lawyer will raise an objection saying that no foundation was laid for such evidence. Whether it is a wrongful death, medical malpractice, or personal injury trial, the lawyer simply cannot present a photo as evidence, and ask the jury to see it. A legal procedure has to be followed for presenting photographic evidence; otherwise, the judge may not allow it to be shown in court.

Procedure for Presenting Photographic Evidence

Personal injury claim

Photographic evidence is extremely critical in accident cases.

Initially, the lawyer will have to verify to the court that the content of the photograph is accurate. The lawyer will have to tell the court that whatever is trying to be shown through the photo is correctly portrayed. For instance, suppose the accident case is about a collision at the intersection, and each side is claiming that they were having the green signal. During the trial, the lawyer of the plaintiff will ask his client to talk about what happened at the intersection. If a photo of the intersection is being presented, then the lawyer will first ask his client to authenticate that photo.

Presenting the photo, the lawyer will ask his client if that was the intersection where the accident occurred. Furthermore, the lawyer will ask different questions such as:

  • How many times have you gone through the intersection?
  • How many times have you been returning from work, through that intersection?
  • Is the traffic light, which is there at the intersection, accurately portrayed in the photo?
  • Are the crosswalks accurately portrayed in the photo, and do they look as they were at the time of the accident?

After asking these questions to the client for authenticating the photo, the lawyer can then tell the judge, he would like to offer the photo as evidence.

Objection of the Defense

The defense might still object, saying the plaintiff’s lawyer has not laid down sufficient groundwork to authenticate the photo. The judge might agree with the defense and tell the plaintiff’s lawyer that the foundation is incomplete, which would show the photo to be authentic. In such an instance, there will be a problem admitting the photo as evidence. The plaintiff’s lawyer then might have to use some other witness to try to push that photo into evidence, or present some other photo that can be used in the case, to show to the jury.

Photo Accepted as Evidence

If the lawyer is able to persuade the judge that the photo should constitute necessary evidence for the case, then he will be able to show it to the jury. The lawyer can then ask his client certain questions, while the photo is being displayed to the jury. The photo will validate whatever the plaintiff is answering and hence that will carry much more weight than simply narrating what happened.

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