The average Georgia citizen may not realize this, but video cameras are quite prevalent around Atlanta. There are a series of them covering all major highways, and more and more are at major intersections. Most law enforcement personnel now have video and audio recording devices as standard equipment in cruisers, where they are set to be activated automatically as soon as the officer flips his warning lights.
Something else the average Atlanta motorist might not think about is how handy these cameras could be in case of a car wreck. In automobile accident cases, the insurance company will dispute liability by any means necessary and try to keep the injured party down. Many times, this leads to cases that turn into ‘swearing contests’ where there are no eye witnesses, and a jury is left to suss out the credibility of each side without a whole lot of concrete assistance. What doesn’t make sense in this scenario is that there are more and more video cameras, yet it’s very difficult to get the police and/or Department of Transportation to produce these records.
Often, when an attorney sends an Open Records Request or subpoena, the response is, “We don’t record that information.” The lack of access to these videos leads to needless litigation for both the plaintiff and the defendant. There are situations where large companies whose trucks were clearly at fault, but the company chooses to litigate a case because there is a chance a jury will find in their favor. On the other side of the coin, there are cases where a car driver is clearly at fault and a truck driver would be easily exonerated by video evidence.
Video images are valuable to Georgia personal injury and car accident lawyers because they allow a view of an accident scene in the moments leading up to, during, and after a crash occurs. Things like lighting conditions, weather and road conditions, placement and activity of vehicles, and the license plate numbers of eyewitnesses that aren’t listed in a police report are available via video records. There are many advantages to having access to these recordings.
Where audio is available, it is valuable as well. A few years ago, a client who’d been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer that had turned left into his path. The client’s pickup had its roof ripped off when the trailer went across it. The client was able to duck and survive, but still sustained major spinal injuries that required surgery. The trucking company’s insurance company tried to deny liability and stated they had an eyewitness that would testify that the client was speeding.
Upon contacting the eyewitness, my colleague learned that the insurance company’s adjuster had called the eyewitness and fed him bits of information that –no matter how erroneous– tainted the eyewitness’ view of the client. Since a Georgia State Patrol officer responded to the scene of the crash, there was audio available (GSP troopers wear mics on their uniforms and record all interactions at stops); in this case the trooper interviewed the eyewitness on-scene, and the eyewitness plainly stated that the tractor-trailer driver was at fault in the collision. This resulted in the insurance company backing down and paying for the injury that their driver caused.