Our world is full of cameras. Our laws allow video recording of public spaces. That means that any time you are in public, you might be on camera. You are certainly part of recordings in convenience stores and banks. Whether such footage will ever see use in a lawsuit is another matter. First, something will have to go wrong. Whether for a personal injury claims, automobile accidents, or other unfortunate circumstances that lead to lawsuits, you will want the strongest evidence and that often comes from surveillance video.
The Power of Video Evidence
Video recordings offer fantastic evidence to prove or disprove testimony. With a good recording, legal claims will sometimes evaporate. Fraudulent lawsuits or lawsuits brought on by good people who simply misinterpreted the events seldom survive exposure to video recordings. The mere mention of the existence of such evidence can create surprising results.
Business Video Recordings
Video recordings that law enforcement officers make provide evidence on a regular basis. A vast number of stores create recordings as well. Traffic cams are also on the rise. Those and numerous other commercial and private entities have recording devices running around the clock.
Mobile Phone Video Evidence
Video evidence of crimes, fraud, and traffic incidents are on the rise. They come not only from commercial cameras but from mobile devices. With almost every hand in America holding a camera phone, the volume of and the potential for video evidence is astounding.
Questions About Video Evidence
The questions then become who will those videos benefit and who will have access to them? Will the judge allow them as evidence? If you suffer involvement in an incident that spawns an injury lawsuit or other civil claim, you want those questions answered. Witness testimony provides useful evidence, but video footage is usually incontrovertible.
Surveillance Video Can Be Used For or Against You
Video footage can hurt you as easily as it can help. Two cases that occurred fairly recently involved a shooting of a bond agent client and an assault in a hospital. Videos show both the incidents with fair clarity. The results, however, were a bit surprising. The bond agent and the hospital each recorded the video. The results, however, turned out both favorable and unfavorable for those two businesses. The jury found the bond agent not guilty. Conversely, the hospital received a lawsuit because the staff did not control the attacker, who was also a patient.
Can You Obtain Surveillance Video from Others?
In the above cases, the video was easy to obtain, but what happens if you don’t own it? How do you obtain a recording that might prove your innocence? The good news is that such evidence is most often handed over out of courtesy. Most private citizens and businesses have no issue sharing the recording, especially to law enforcement. When those holding the recordings refuse, however, a different approach may still work. It is a crime to destroy such evidence, so a subpoena for that video will help you obtain the proof you seek.
Laws Regarding Video Recording
The other piece of good news is that strict codes regarding video recordings are not prevalent. You may have heard much about privacy laws regarding recording another person and those laws do exist. However, they primarily deal with audio recordings. Video recording laws have yet to come of age.
Is Your Evidence Admissible?
You should still understand what laws apply to the video you hope to submit. Will laws you know nothing about throw the evidence out? What guidelines will your judge be following? What are the laws in your state? The complexities may require some study, or you might need to seek help.
If you are in doubt about your rights or how you might obtain video regarding an incident which involves you, consult an attorney. While you will not have had experience obtaining such evidence, your attorney will be able to offer you guidance in these matters.
PHOTO: Photo by Niv Singer on Unsplash