Can the Defendant in My Personal Injury Case Have Me Followed?
A personal injury case is not simply a matter of proving the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff must also demonstrate to the court–i.e., the jury–how the defendant’s negligence injured them. The defendant, in turn, will try to minimize or reject the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries in an attempt to avoid liability.
Surveillance Video Defeats Premises Liability Claim
You have probably heard about cases where a person claims to be seriously injured but subsequent evidence emerges–often a video recording–where the victim shows no visible signs of physical limitation. This often comes up in the context of workers’ compensation, where a suspicious employer might hire a private investigator to follow an injured employee, looking for signs of a faked or exaggerated injury. But such tactics may be employed in any type of personal injury lawsuit.
For example, the Tennessee Court of Appeals recently considered the admissibility of a surveillance video in a premises liability case. The defendants in this case were homeowners who put their property up for sale. The plaintiff was a potential buyer. She was also a licensed real estate agent, so the defendants permitted her to inspect the house unaccompanied.
During that inspection, the wife fell down a step on a stairway leading to the attic. She claimed the step was defective and constituted a “dangerous condition” that the plaintiffs failed to warn her about. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff said should not “walk a lot” or “stand too long,” and had difficulty enjoying a number of daily activities as she did prior to the accident.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit was tried before a jury. During trial, the defendants introduced video surveillance recordings prepared by a private investigator they hired. The video showed the plaintiff “walking in and out of various locations, walking in heels, standing outside talking with a friend, and getting in and out of [her car] without difficulty,” and driving in excess of 85 miles per hour on the interstate. The plaintiff objected to showing this video to the jury, arguing it was “irrelevant and unduly prejudicial,” but the judge allowed it. The jury subsequently returned a verdict for the defendants.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals said the judge did not abuse his discretion in letting the jury see the surveillance video. The appeals court noted the evidence was relevant given the plaintiff’s personal injury claim centered on “her physical limitations” as a result of her fall on the defendants’ property. Any “prejudicial” effect the video might have had was therefore outweighed by its “probative” value.
You Need a Clinton Personal Injury Lawyer on Your Side
Not every personal injury defendant has the foresight or the resources to hire a private investigator. But this case is still a useful cautionary tale to anyone who files a personal injury lawsuit. You should always assume the defendant will take all legal measures to protect their interests. You must do the same. The first step is to hire an experienced Knoxville personal injury lawyer who will look out for you. Contact the offices of Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, Attorneys at Law, to schedule a consultation today.