June 28, 2015 • Personal Injury FAQs
Caught on Camera
In many personal injury cases, the defense attorney will hire a private investigator to try to catch you on video, doing something you claimed that you could not do. If they are able to get you on video doing certain things and want to present that as evidence, they are then obligated to turn over a copy of that video to your lawyer prior to trial.
How can such a defendant’s surveillance video help you in your case, when that video is designed to show the jury that you are able to do certain things that you claimed you could not do?
First, you will be asked questions during the deposition, which is a pretrial questions and answers session held under oath. The defense lawyer will definitely ask you what you can and cannot do, because the lawyer wants to lock you into your testimony, which he can use later to discredit you in front of the jury. For instance, if at deposition you say that you cannot go biking, rock climbing, or even change a tire because of your injuries, and then if you are caught on defendant’s surveillance video doing these exact same activities or some of them at least, your case is all but over.
If you are caught grabbing some rebounds strongly in an intense three on three basketball game, that is not going to look so good in the eyes of the jury when you have been telling them your life is miserable and you cannot function well.
Showing what You cannot Do
However, when your lawyer attains such a video from the defense, he will go through it very carefully. In most instances, the defendant’s surveillance video would have shot the person going from the front of his home to the car, moving from the car to the grocery store, or doing similar activities in only public spaces. What the defense does not show and what they cannot show is what goes on behind closed doors.
They do not know what happens as you reach for something in your home―if you have significant pain or not. They do not know about the things you are limited from doing. The video does not show many aspects, and it only shows the public things that you are trying to do.
This is one way to look at if the opposition has video of you. So do not believe your case is doomed. You probably do not want to be caught on camera ripping rebounds off the backboard while claiming your life is stuck in the mud physically though. So do not play basketball or do anything that in public that could possibly damage your case.
There is No Harm in Ilustrating What You can Do
By the way, there is no harm in trying to do certain activities. In fact, you can show to the jury that you are trying to do everything possible to get your life back to normal (intense basketball though is not one of them). Therefore, the key is trying to show what is not included in the defendant’s surveillance video, and by doing that you will be able to bring out other testimonies and other evidence to show to the jury that the video did not capture many things that you are unable to do. This way the jury will obtain a true understanding of the problems and complaints you have, and the key tasks you are actually limited from doing.