Personal Injury Videos: Should You Use Them?
Have you ever thought about using the services of a video production company -- not to make a cheesy lawyer TV ad -- but to create personal injury videos for use in legal proceedings?
The videos, which are typically used in litigation, mediation, and arbitration, give a bird's eye view of how an injury affects a plaintiff (or in a wrongful death suit, the victim's loved ones) or how an accident occurred.
Here's an overview of common types of videos used in personal injury cases and a few of their caveats.
- Wrongful Death Video. A video on wrongful death is essentially an "in memoriam" piece, examining the life of the victim and showing how the sudden passing has affected family and friends. But remember, plucking heartstrings will only get you so far in a wrongful death lawsuit. To get more bang for your buck, show how the victim's death financially impacted the family.
- Deposition Videos. Video depositions allow jurors to watch a person's body language and may also function as a powerful tool for witness impeachment. But if your client may "perform" similarly to Lil Wayne in a deposition video, you may want to hold off on filming a depo video. Also, videotaped body language may be misleading for certain clients, such as second language speakers, disabled individuals, people with social anxiety, and those without enough social anxiety.
- "Day in the Life" Video. As its name suggests, a "day in the life" video records the day-to-day routine of the plaintiff, providing a visual of the difficulties a plaintiff faces in performing everyday duties. It's a way to demonstrate the plaintiff's physical injury and actual damages.
- Accident Reconstruction. A video that visually brings to life lay or expert witness testimony of how an accident unfolded can be a powerful tool in determining fault and damages. Such visual aids may be created through video or video animation and may include evidence photographs and police reports. But like all of the above, these videos raise a number of hearsay issues.
Potential Admissibility Issues
In addition to potential hearsay roadblocks that must be passed before an injury video is admitted into evidence, such videos may also be excluded for lacking:
- Authenticity. Such videos shouldn't be staged or manipulated.
- Relevancy. The video must be relevant to understanding an issue in the case.
- Probative value. The video's probative value needs to outweigh the prejudicial aspects of the video (i.e., make sure the emotionally charged evidence doesn't hinder the truth).
So long as your client isn't camera shy (or an on-screen diva) and you're able to clear evidentiary hurdles, your case may be ready to star in a personal injury video.
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