Surveillance cameras are a game-changer in personal injury litigation. I blogged about this before, but another recent example illustrates this point.
A client slips and falls in the vestibule entrance of a local movie house. It had been raining, and movie-goers had been dragging in the rain on their feet. The employees had forgotten to lay out the rectangular carpets to absorb the water as they were required to do by company policy. But the insurance adjuster handling the claim tells me it was all my client’s fault because she “rushed” into the vestibule. I formally requested that any surveillance videos of the incident be preserved as evidence. After I sue the movie house (because the insurance carrier refused to pay), I demand the video. It shows my client walking at a normal pace and then sliding for about a foot before finally tumbling to the floor. That floor was like an ice-skating rink, and I have it on video to prove it.
Before the era of surveillance cameras (and they are everywhere now – you would be surprised just where), my client might have lost this case — it was just her word against theirs. Now it is her word, and a surveillance video tape, against theirs.
One thing I have learned as a New York personal injury lawyer, and especially as a slip-and-fall accident lawyer, is that you have got to demand, in writing, that those surveillance tapes get preserved right away. Many stores and other institutions re-use surveillance video tapes, taping over earlier recordings, on a weekly basis. But if you ask them to preserve the surveillance video as evidence, and they have not already taped over it, then they must preserve it. If the don’t, the Court can later dismiss their defenses and grant the injured plaintiff a judgment based on destruction of evidence.
If you are injured and you believe there may be a surveillance video tape of the accident, don’t forget to tell your New York personal injury lawyer about your suspicions so he can demand that the evidence be preserved!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.