Your audience, whether an adjuster or a juror, reacts to visuals. You need to maximize the use of these tools. You will never have a second chance to capture many of the visuals of the moments in time that will be very important in telling your client’s story to the jury or the adjuster. These visuals may well influence the value the decision makers place of your client’s injuries, and the impact these injuries have had on his life. Hospital. Therapy. Weight-bearing. And so on. Most of the visuals you need to gather on Day One can be obtained inexpensively. A little time and resources spent today will pay dividends down the road.
HERE IS A CHECKLIST OF THINGS TO START LOOKING FOR ON DAY ONE:
–Hospital. Beckon a photographer, videographer, gifted paralegal, or family member to the hospital to capture video of your client in bed. A couple of hours will do it. The viewer needs to see how miserable life is, the equipment, the beeps and buzzes, the constant overhead fluorescent lights, the interruptions, the bedpans and so on. Contact the hospital in advance for approval.
–Physical/Occupational/Speech Therapy. Most plaintiffs we’ve worked with have described therapy as “torture.” It goes on and on, week after week. An hour of pain, and the dread of going back. Show the viewer what the big deal is.
–Crash Scene. Use a car-mounted video camera to document the approach to the point of impact. Show how the traffic signals interact with one another. Show the different perspectives from the point of view of the plaintiff, the defendant, and each of your eye-witnesses.
–Traffic Cameras. Act quickly enough and there’s a chance the actual crash was caught on a traffic camera. However, we have been told DOT doesn’t keep that video for very long. So, check now. Right now!
–Surveillance Video. Awhile back we worked on a project in which the attorney had video of the actual motor vehicle collision in a wrongful death case. This was a huge coup. The attorney was savvy enough to scope out the scene of the crash and found a surveillance camera that pointed directly at the intersection.
–Eyewitnesses. Ask the eyewitnesses if they might have captured video or photos at the scene, specifically with their cell phone cameras. It’s more common than you think, and they may have captured something the police photos missed.
–Mainstream Media. Contact the TV stations and newspapers in the area. A major crash ties up traffic, and on a slow news day, the media will send reporters to sniff out a story.
The sources of video in the initial stages of your case are limited only by your imagination. The best mindset is to think forward to the story you believe you will want to tell to a jury or claims committee in the future. Consider now what you will want to show them then.
Start gathering the visuals now. To wait will be too late. There is a brief window of opportunity to videotape the various stages of your case. The client may only be in ICU for a few days. Capture the images and videos while you can.