Developing Your Case with Impactful Photographic Evidence
Everyone loves a good story, including judges and juries. If you want to win your case or personal injury claim, then you have to tell a better story than your opposition. Take a page from the most popular modern storytellers – moviemakers – and add a visual element to your case. Indeed, using the right photographic evidence effectively can make all the difference in the world.
PICTURE THIS! – USING PHOTOS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
As discussed by Attorney Gordon Levinson of Levinson Law Group in a Trial Bar News article (November 2006), a smart litigator can use photographic evidence to their advantage in really any type of legal case. He shared the result of a complex real estate case in which the opposition claimed a piece of property would “probably” lose its value due to the owner’s inattention. To turn the case to his advantage, Levinson provided a gallery of photographs that showed the property was actually improved, and recently so.
He also discussed the usefulness and impact of photographic evidence in wrongful death claims. Liable parties in such cases may stop any resistance to a fair settlement the moment showing pictures of the decedent to a jury is even mentioned. While this might not be a pleasant situation for anyone, the truth remains that photographic evidence is powerful when used appropriately.
PROVING PHOTO AUTHENTICITY
In today’s digital age, it can be pretty easy to manipulate a photograph using software and other technological tricks. Are court’s overly concerned that photographic evidence submitted in a trial could be tampered with? Thankfully, no.
In most cases, so long as an image is deemed “fair, accurate, true, or good” by a relevant witness, it passes the court’s scrutiny test. Of course, you cannot just march to the stand, flash a picture, and ask the testifying witness if it is indeed what it is. The more thorough a lawyer is in explaining the photograph, why it is what it is, and why it is pertinent to a case, the better.
Consider this straightforward example: The front of a plaintiff’s home is smashed in by a drunk driver. Rather than just showing a picture of the damage and expecting it to be received well, take a moment to establish the witness’s familiarity with the structure before it was damaged. It might seem a little redundant but, remember, you are using pictures to tell a story.
OBJECTIONS TO PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE
If people do not regularly contest a photograph due to questionable authenticity, then what do they use to challenge this kind of evidence? Most of the time, people will object to a photograph as evidence only if its presence harms their case and they know it. Defendants in a personal injury claim love to say that the picture is just too gory to show a jury.
Of course, goriness is exactly the reason why judges and juries need to see the photograph. It is difficult to describe the true extent of someone’s pain and suffering in just words – there are only so many choices with a thesaurus to say it was “traumatizing.” But with a picture, you get a thousand words, as the colloquialism goes. Being able to see a wound, count some stitches, observe the damage to a vehicle, and so on makes it clear to the jury that your plaintiff really was injured that badly, and that it really did make them suffer.
Want to know more about using photographic evidence appropriately in your case? Why not click here to view the PDF file version of the November 2006 edition of Trial Bar News? You can find his article starting on page 21, titled “Picture Perfect – How to Lay the Proper Foundation for Photographic Evidence”. Of course, if you would like to retain Attorney Levinson’s legal assistance, you can contact the Levinson Law Group to speak with one of our Carlsbad personal injury lawyers today during a free consultation.