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How Videotapes Can Dramatically Impact Upon Your NY Personal Injury Lawsuit

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Jonathan Cooper
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On March 26, it was reported that a young man has brought a personal injury lawsuit against his local police department based on his claim that his arresting officer unnecessarily punched him in the throat. Under normal circumstances, chances are that a jury hearing this case would dismiss it out of hand in a heartbeat, particularly when they would see that the plaintiff in question certainly doesn’t come across as Mr. Nice Guy. But this case will almost certainly have a different outcome, and for one simple reason: the entire incident was caught on the officer’s dashboard video camera, and it corroborates this plaintiff's version of the events.

After viewing the video, I don’t believe that this person was seriously injured. But this story is still important, because it serves as an important reminder for personal injury accident victims to take note of all independent evidence verifying your version of the events to support your claim. Stated plainly, if you have the opportunity to more objectively (i.e., other than solely through your own credibility) establish what occurred in your accident, it certainly behooves you to do so. Some common examples of how to garner this type of evidence includes gathering the contact information for non-party witnesses to the accident, and perhaps most importantly, ascertaining if there are any nearby bank or store video cameras that might have caught what happened on tape. (In fact, in one two-vehicle accident case I handled several years ago, the high speed car crash was caught on the tape of a bank that was located across the intesection.)

One final note with regard to the videotapes: it is crucial that you get this information to your attorney as soon as possible after the accident, because many tapes are destroyed, or taped over, within a short time in stores' and banks' regular course of business absent a prompt and specific notice or request that the tapes be preserved.


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Jonathan Cooper
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