Why Day One is the Most Important Day of a Big Case
A great case comes in the door with strong liability and significant damages. The kind of case you might consider for a settlement documentary to be used at or in advance of mediation. With the best of intentions, you map out in your head the visuals you’ll want. But you do nothing.
It’s not that you lost interest. But mediation is still months, maybe years, away. Unfortunately, by then, the opportunities to collect many useful visuals may be gone.
Here’s a checklist of what to start looking for on Day One:
- Hospital – Ask a photographer, videographer, paralegal, or family member to capture video of your client in bed at the hospital. The viewer needs to see how miserable life is, being hooked up to the equipment. All the beeps and buzzes, the interruptions, the bedpans and so on. Contact the hospital in advance for approval.
- Physical/Occupational/Speech Therapy – Most plaintiffs 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, and the different perspectives from the point of view of the plaintiff, the defendant, and each of your eyewitnesses.
- Traffic Cameras – Act fast enough and there’s a chance the actual crash was caught on a traffic camera. Be aware, however, that DOT doesn’t keep that video for very long.
- Surveillance Video – We recently 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. He was savvy enough to scope out the scene of the crash and found a surveillance camera pointing directly at the intersection.
- Eyewitnesses – Ask the eyewitnesses if they have captured video or photos at the scene with their cell phones. It’s possible they may have captured something the police photos missed.
- Mainstream Media – Contact the TV stations 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 all around if you’re looking for them. The best mindset is to think forward to the story you believe you will want to tell a jury or claims committee in the future. Consider now what you will want to show them.
And start gathering the visuals now. To wait will be too late.
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