This is how surveillance video can win your case.
A 74-year old pedestrian, while walking across the street, was seriously injured when she was struck by the front of a car while it was turning left onto a side street from State Route 9G in the Town of Hyde Park in Dutchess County, NY on May 3, 2020. The pedestrian sustained a traumatic brain injury and was unable to recall any of the circumstances of the collision. There were no eyewitnesses with the exception of the operator of the car.
Following the collision, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office began an accident reconstruction with their reconstruction “expert”. About 2 months later, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s office issued a reconstruction report finding the pedestrian at fault for causing the collision for her “inattention” and shockingly, found no fault on the part of the operator of the car. It appeared unlikely that the injured pedestrian would be able to prove the negligence of the operator of the car.
The Power of Surveillance Video
Surveillance video changed everything. At the corner of the intersection, a gas station, located at the southwestern corner of the intersection, had a surveillance camera depicting the intersection as well as the area where the collision occurred. The surveillance video revealed a far different story than the reconstruction analysis conducted by the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office.
The surveillance video revealed that the pedestrian was slowly walking across a side street near the intersection, when the operator of the car suddenly turned left from State Route 9G onto the side street (the operator of the car later testified that he was trying to make a quick left turn to avoid oncoming traffic from the opposing direction on State Route 9G). The surveillance video revealed that the 74-year old pedestrian had no time to respond or react to the oncoming car.
A Picture (a/k/a Surveillance Video) is Worth a Thousand Words
The surveillance video revealed that the operator of the car did not slow down or apply his brakes until a second before the collision. The surveillance video revealed that the operator of the car had a clear and unobstructed view of the pedestrian before he began making the left turn. The surveillance video revealed that the operator of the car should not have begun making the left turn from State Route 9G onto the side street until the pedestrian was safely across the street.
The surveillance video revealed that the operator of the car was almost entirely at fault for causing the collision. Following the depositions of the parties, the liability insurer for the operator of the car paid the policy limits of his insured’s coverage ($500,000).
The First Thing You Should Do Once You are Retained by a Client
When you are first contacted by an injury victim, the first thing you should do is check for surveillance cameras/video in the area surrounding the scene of the incident. Surveillance cameras are ubiquitous at most public businesses—gas stations, hospitals, schools, etc. and even at many residences.—and if you timely preserve the video, you can turn a difficult liability case into a winner.
One word of caution: surveillance video is frequently overwritten following a certain period of time, e.g., 7 to 28 days. Hence, you must IMMEDIATELY take steps to preserve the surveillance video before the video is overwritten. Preserving the surveillance video might be the most important thing that you can do to win the case.