Twenty or so years ago, security cameras were rare. You saw them only in banks, parking garages, and the larger department stores. As you know, the digital revolution reduced the cost of cameras, and now we even have cameras on our phones.
Cameras are everywhere now, and they’ve affected almost every aspect of our lives, including the law. Video evidence is commonly introduced today in criminal prosecutions, divorce proceedings, and personal injury cases.
If you’re injured accidentally by another person’s negligence in the greater Philadelphia area, and if that accident was caught on video, will you be able to use the video to help you win compensation for your medical expenses and related losses? Our Philadelphia personal injury attorney answers that question in this article.
HOW IS VIDEO MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN PERSONAL INJURY CASES?
If you’ll keep reading this brief introduction to the use of video in personal injury cases, you’ll learn how accident attorneys are using video to win compensation on behalf of injury victims – compensation that might have been lost without the powerful evidence that video can provide.
All types of sources can provide video that might be useful in a personal injury case: smartphone video from your own phone or someone else’s; dashcam video from your own vehicle, someone else’s vehicle, or the police; and surveillance video from a retailer or another third-party source.
Dashcams can provide persuasive evidence, for example, if you are injured in a collision with a negligent driver. If you’re the person being blamed for an accident, your dashcam video might prove that the negligent motorist was actually the other driver in the collision.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AS AN INJURED VICTIM OF NEGLIGENCE?
That proof can be important, because if you’re injured by negligence in traffic or in any other accident scenario, Pennsylvania law entitles you to compensation for your accident-related medical bills, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and all other related losses and damages.
But you’re not simply handed that compensation. You have to prove that you’re entitled to it. If you’ve been injured by negligence, you’re going to need help from an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney. You’ll need to contact that attorney as soon as you can after an injury.
Of course, video evidence is impartial. If you’re the negligent driver in a Pennsylvania traffic accident, video evidence won’t help. And even if the other motorist was the negligent driver, video alone will not help you unless you also have the right personal injury attorney.
HOW WILL A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
You must have a strong advocate on your side, an injury lawyer who can clarify precisely what the video evidence means. You need an attorney who has abundant experience winning the compensation that injury victims need for their medical bills, lost wages, and related losses.
Your personal injury attorney will review any other evidence (such as your medical examination and the police report), question any eyewitnesses, and may contact experts – medical authorities and accident reconstruction experts – who may be able to help with your case.
Of course, traffic accidents do not account for all personal injuries. If you slip or trip, fall, and you’re injured on private property – at a store, restaurant, hotel, parking lot, amusement park, or even at someone else’s home – there may be video, and you may have a personal injury claim.
COULD YOU BE A TARGET OF “SURVEILLANCE” VIDEO?
Personal injury lawyers and claims adjusters for insurance companies scrutinize any video that records these incidents to determine who’s liable. If a dispute arises over how an accident and injury happened, that dispute can often be resolved by the video record of the event.
If you are making a personal injury claim against a negligent party’s insurance company, you should know that the company may assign an investigator to track you and record video.
For example, if you claim that you can’t move your arms or upper body as the result of a traffic accident, an investigator working for an insurance company may try to take a video of you carrying groceries, working in your yard, or playing competitive sports.
Investigators for insurance companies can’t violate your privacy or the law, but they can take video in any public setting like a parking lot, a sidewalk, or a retail location.
WHAT ABOUT VIDEO THAT SHOWS UP ONLINE?
If you file a personal injury claim, be cautious if you post photos or videos to social media sites like Facebook or YouTube. Lawyers and insurance investigators will comb through your social media pages for evidence – especially video evidence – that your claim is false or exaggerated.
If you’re injured by negligence and you don’t have your own video of the incident, you need to determine if someone else does. After a traffic crash, scan the vicinity for nearby retailers and others who may have a video that captured the collision, and let your attorney know.
If you’re injured because of a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident in a parking lot or at a store, hotel, restaurant, or another private property, you must seek sound legal advice and aggressive representation right away. Contact an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney at once.
ARE JOB-RELATED INJURIES HANDLED DIFFERENTLY?
If you are injured on the job in Pennsylvania, you probably cannot sue your employer for damages. Instead, a workplace injury will probably qualify you for worker’s compensation benefits. Your employer may even have a video that can help.
Still, you should have an injury attorney’s advice and guidance when you seek worker’s comp benefits. Your attorney can help you with the paperwork – so that no misunderstandings or mistakes delay your benefits – and handle your appeal if your worker’s comp claim is denied.
A good personal injury attorney will find and request any video that recorded an accident that injured you, whether it’s someone’s dashcam video, a police video, an employer’s video, or a surveillance video from a third party.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER?
If another driver crashes into you, if you slip-and-fall while you’re shopping, or if you’re in a store and merchandise falls or a display collapses on you, and you are seriously injured, you may not have clearly seen what led up to the accident, but video may be able to tell the whole story.
Don’t wait to speak to an attorney if you’ve been injured by negligence in or near Philadelphia. Seek medical attention first – that’s obviously the top and immediate priority if you’re injured – and then discuss your legal rights and options immediately with a good personal injury attorney.