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How those tiny cameras have changed the way personal injury cases are litigated in Ontario

This morning, I saw some of the most gruesome video tape of an assault I have ever seen in my years as a personal injury lawyer. The video depicted a horrific assault of one man, pummelling a defenceless man who had been knocked unconscious from a series of punches to the head.  Even though the man being beaten lay motionless on the ground, he was still being punched repeatedly in the face. Unlike a Mixed Martial Arts fight, there was no referee to stop to beating. It continued for what seemed to be an eternity. This was rated “R” footage that would have made anyone cringe. Even a personal injury lawyer such as myself who has seen some pretty nasty images over the years.

As a result of the serious beating, the injured party sustained a fractured orbital bone, along with brain damage. This does not take in to consideration the bruising cuts to the victims face. He had to be rushed to hospital in Toronto following the attack, where he remained for 3 days following his discharge home.

In years past, this assault would have been described by the victim or any witnesses in words; based on foggy memory. Those memories get even foggier as time passes. If the victim or the witnesses had consumed alcohol or drugs at the time of the attack, then chances are those memories are even foggier.

Around 10 years ago, when injured parties and witnesses were asked to provide their best recollection of the events giving rise to the claim, all they had to go was based on these foggy memories, notes, or perhaps photos taken at the scene.

But all of that has changed over the past decade. Cameras have gotten smaller and smaller; and those cameras now have video capabilities. Every cell phone on the market today, with a few exceptions, have both photo capability and video capability. And there are now more cell phones on the planet than people. Cameras are so small today, and can be connected to almost any computer device, they can fit on any surface; from a dashboard cam on a car; to the back of a pen/pencil.

And what has the surge in cameras done to the field of personal injury litigation? Quite simply, it has brought cases to LIFE! No more do personal injury lawyers need to rely on bad evidence, or poor historians. No longer do injury lawyers need to worry about a star witness failing to show up for an important examination for discovery or court date. All us lawyers need to do is simply press “play” and let the tape roll.

The best thing about letting the tape roll, is that it presents the absolute best evidence to a Judge and Jury. It doesn’t matter if one witness is credible, likeable or not. All that matters is what’s seen on the footage and whether or not that footage depicts a telling enough tale to convince a Judge or Jury one way or another.

Chances are if the footage captures such a horrific and heinous car accident, assault or another catastrophic injury; that’s will be enough for a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer to run with to establish liability against the at fault party in the case.

Defendants rarely admit that an accident was their fault. And when they do, it’s human nature to down play the impact of the event. A Defendant might say at Examination for Discovery that they rear ended and collided with the Plaintiff’s vehicle; but they would describe the impact and the collision as a “minor fender bender“.

Then at trial, the video evidence from the car’s dash board cam shows that the Defendant’s vehicle was travelling at high speeds and following impact, pieces of the car flew everywhere, and the vehicle spun out of control. This can hardly be described as a minor fender bender sort of accident.  This sort of video evidence not only provides the judge and jury the best evidence possible of the car accident; but it also completely discredits a Defendant who is trying his/her best to down play their role in the subject car accident.P1030273

Just as video evidence can be used against Defendants, the same can be said for the same video evidence to be used against a Plaintiff. While a Plaintiff may describe the car accident as a major collision; the video evidence may show that the collision was simply a “tap”. This is why it’s important for Plaintiffs to always tell the truth in the context of their respective car accident cases in Ontario. You never know what evidence will surface in the context of a personal injury case, and how that very same evidence will be used against you.

Strangely enough, the increased use of cameras has called police investigative tactics in to question. In the past after a car accident, the police would have to determine how the car accident happened based on one party’s word vs. another; plus any statements from witnesses. It’s not uncommon for the police to favour one person’s version of the events over another. Sometimes the police can get thing WRONG. Unfortunately, these things happen. The increased use and availability of cameras have kept police forces all across the province of Ontario on their toes; and dare this lawyer say; more accountable for their actions than ever. If they get it wrong, or do something inappropriate; chances are somebody will get it on tape and post it on YouTube to shame that officer and their police force.

Personal Injury Tip from the recently named Legal Elite by London Business Magazine: If you have a camera connected to your smartphone; remember to use it to take as much video and photos as you can of the accident scene. This is even more important in the context of a slip and fall so that you can properly identify the hazard which caused you to fall and sustain a personal injury. Accident scenes constantly change. The state they were at the time of the accident is crucial to your case. The best way to capture those conditions is quite simply busy taking a picture and/or a video using a trust and capable smartphone. This can be the difference between a strong and a weak personal injury case. The more images/video which you take, the better. Your personal injury lawyer will thank you. Until next time. This is Brian Goldfinger signing off from the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. Thanks for your readership!

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