Cell Phone Photos
It’s an electronic world, and the cameras on our phones get better all the time, so presenting pictures of an accident scene in a courtroom is now routine. They are often presented using a projector on a big screen. These large depictions need high resolution to be shown at these sizes. The more a photograph has to be enlarged, the more detail and quality will be needed for the photograph to still look sharp.
If there’s a choice, photos taken with an SLR will be far superior to cell phone photos, but not everyone has that option. It will also depend on what the person was photographing. An SLR provides a choice of lenses. If the camera has a large enough chip, and the correct lens, it is possible to take a photograph that is a very close approximation of what the human eye will see. When it is time to use the photograph in trial, this could be a big advantage. On the other hand, even a cell phone photo is usually better than none.
Diaries and Journals
These are a double-edge sword. If someone creates a diary that is not protected by the attorney-client privilege, then the other side can get a copy and use anything written to discredit the injured person who wrote it. Unless you are a professional writer or someone knows how to write for legal purposes, it would be very easy for the defense to point out something written that may seem foolish or exaggerated, and it could cause problems.
Any client who wants to create a diary or journal should create every entry as a form of communication to their attorney, such as a letter updating them on what was going on. These attorney-client communications are then privileged. The attorney will have the information, and it will be in the attorney’s file, and available to the client. However, it will not be available to the defense.
Motorcycle accident cases depend greatly on the injured person’s ability to demonstrate the functional effects of the injuries on a daily basis. It’s important that the injured person be able to articulate very specifically what they can’t do now that they used to be able to do before, like cooking, cleaning and taking care of themselves, or gardening, washing the car or cleaning the garage.
They could also note that their broken leg was set but it is still hard to go upstairs, which is important because they have to climb a large staircase to get to their apartment or house. They may also say that their ability to do these things was not limited before, but is limited after the accident, or that someone may be helping them. All of these things could be important things for establishing the value of the case.
The way that the injury affected the person at work is critical in the same way, so it is helpful to note what cannot be done, what can be done only in a limited fashion, and what can only be done with great pain. It should be documented what others do to help out and how they shave had to modify their work.
These issues are not limited to work. They apply equally in asocial setting. There may be social events the injured person missed. It could be a softball league they can no longer play in. They may be unable to go shopping with friends. A trip or a relatives wedding may be impossible because of injuries. These details need to be thoroughly documented. That said, I am not convinced that doing that in the form of a diary is the best way.
Unintentional Actions That Can Hurt the Case
The first thing people do after an accident that can hurt their case is get on the phone with the insurance company. They should never do this without talking to a lawyer first. It is a mistake to start answering questions about how the accident happened without understanding the ramifications of every detail.
It’s necessary to take the time to go through everything with someone who understands the technical issues. Riders who have hit their head will often have a concussion that might go undiagnosed and there may be a point where they will not even remember what happened in the accident. Most people are confused after an accident. The statement the adjuster will be recording could include things that can’t possibly be correct, and those things will come back to haunt the injured rider. The recorded statement is permanent, and should be considered an important piece of evidence.
The second mistake people make is not understanding the importance of documenting absolutely everything that needs to be documented in their case. If it is not documented, it will not be evaluated as part of the settlement. People can be careless or unaware of the need for documentation. They may take off work but not bother to get a disability slip from the doctor, for example. While it’s clear that someone with a severely broken leg can’t work, having a nice, clean disability slip documents the fact that they were on crutches or they had to use a walker so they could get around.
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