A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
One of the most important pieces of evidence in a civil trial is photographs of the damages a plaintiff is claiming. In the same way that you want to share pictures of your tropical vacation with friends on Snapchat or Instagram, share photographs of your client’s injuries with the judge/jury to get them thinking and talking about your case.
In my day-to-day practice, I mostly deal with representing drivers and/or passengers involved in car crashes. The harms my clients usually claim are damage to property (motor vehicle) and damage to person (bodily injuries). It is a lot easier to convince a judge or a jury that this was an occurrence worth compensation if you show the decision-maker(s) photographs of the actual damage you are claiming. Sure, you can have your client testify for hours about how badly her left arm was injured but presenting photographs of your client’s left arm in a cast right after the occurrence is a much more powerful way to get the point across.
Litigation can take years and your client’s injuries may be fully healed by the time she gets a chance to tell her story to a judge or jury. Your client probably will no longer be walking with crutches or have her arm in a cast. But photographs can bring these injuries back to life and help the jury understand exactly how badly your client suffered when injured in the accident.
As for damage to property, you can bring in paid bills using the strict guidelines set forth in Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 10-105 or you could also spend unnecessary amounts of money to have a person from the car repair shop describe the conditions of the motor vehicle. But, once again, photographs of your client’s vehicle taken at the scene of the incident or shortly thereafter are self-evident in proving the severity of the collision.
I’ve had a few trials in front of a Baltimore judge who has a reputation of not being too generous with her awards. Fortunately, in my cases, the judge awarded my client all the damages claimed in the ad damnum clause and advised it was due to the property damage photographs depicting a pretty serious collision.
Given our reliance on technology, your clients may not still have the photographs on their phones or various other mobile devices or may no longer be in touch with the person in whose vehicle they were traveling at the time of the accident, meaning you may not have access to the photographs. In that case, the first thing you should do after filing suit is subpoena those photographs from the appropriate insurance companies. Also be sure to ask the defendant for photographs of his vehicle during the discovery process. In addition, print out Google Earth images of the accident scene. This is a great tool that allows you to download vivid aerial and street views of almost any intersection or roadway.
Putting together all these pieces of the puzzle can help the factfinder determine negligence and (hopefully) rule in your client’s favor.