A defendant in a car accident injury case succeeded in petitioning Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal to quash an order to produce post-accident surveillance video prior to plaintiff deposition.
In Hankerson v. Wiley, the issue at hand was fairness of a plaintiff being allowed to review footage before submitting testimony regarding key facts of the incident. Defendant alleged irreparable harm would be caused if plaintiff were allowed to watch the video before deposition.
In many cases, surveillance footage can be key. If it is of the crash scene, it can show indisputable, unbiased proof of important facts that may be improperly recalled by eyewitnesses or even official investigators.
It’s also sometimes used in personal injury claims to disprove the severity of injuries claimed by plaintiff. Yes, that means defendants may have someone following you, taking footage of you carrying out normal, everyday activities.These images can be used to refute claims of injury alleged to be exaggerated or fabricated entirely. A good personal injury attorney will never advise a client to lie. So, as long as you’re being honest, this should not ever be much of an issue.
There are situations in which video images may be taken out of context, and that’s why it’s important to have an experienced legal advocate on your side, to ensure your rights are protected.
This is especially important in our current technological climate, where surveillance is easily achieved by anyone with a phone. The same kind of evidence can be culled from an individual’s social media platforms and other photo-sharing forums.
But defendants want to expose rather than prevent lies or exaggerations, which is why they so vehemently argue to have the video released after deposition.
Of course, this evidence, as with all other relevant evidence in a civil case, has to be shared with all sides eventually. The question of when, however, is the critical point.
In reaching its decision to delay the production of this evidence to plaintiff, justices relied on a 1980 ruling handed down by the Third District Court of Appeal in Dodson v. Persell. In that case, the court held a defendant in a personal injury case should be allowed to question plaintiff prior to turning over the surveillance video. The reason was because surveillance materials can be used to establish inconsistency in a given claim. Usually, discovery is turned over without any court order. However, in these instances, it’s within the discretion of the trial court to allow deposition before this discovery. The 3rd DCA called this “the appropriate middle road” to make sure all pertinent evidence is presented in a fair and accurate way.
While the decision did note the trial court’s discretion, the 4th DCA in this instance found the trial court abused its discretion.
Our Fort Myers accident lawyers understand the court called for the 3rd DCA’s opinion on this matter to be considered the “bright line rule” in the future, in order to ensure uniformity among district courts across the state.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Hankerson v. Wiley, Jan. 7, 2015, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal
More Blog Entries:
Mosely v. Lloyd – Florida Pedestrian Accident Nets $22.7M Verdict, Dec. 28, 2014, Fort Myers Injury Lawyer Blog