Evidentiary issues are some of the most important issues that courts of appeal determine. By determining what kinds of evidence are admissible at trial, courts can greatly influence what types of cases are permitted to move forward and can also affect the likelihood that a case will end up garnering a favorable settlement or jury verdict. In a recent court of appeals opinion, a court of appeals held that time-lapsed video is admissible under the same legal theory that permits still photographs.
In the case, Smith v. Geico Casualty Company, Smith was injured in a bus accident. At trial, Smith sought damages in excess of $250,000. However, Geico was allowed to introduce time-lapsed footage of the bus during the accident. The video seems to show that the accident was not as severe as Smith alleged, putting doubt into the minds of the jury that Smith’s claim was worth as much as he asserted. In the end, Smith was only awarded $20,000 for past medical expenses by the jury. Smith appealed.
On appeal, Smith argued that it was an error for the court to allow the time-lapsed video evidence, because it created a misleading picture of how the accident occurred. Smith explained that the video only showed four to five frames per second. An average video has approximately thirty frames per second. From here, Smith claimed that the time-lapsed video created gaps in what actually happened and the jury should not have been allowed to see the evidence. Georgia Evidentiary Rules
In general, evidence that is probative of any fact that is material to the case at hand is admissible. However, evidence that is misleading, excessively prejudicial, or duplicative may be barred from admission because it can do more harm than good to the administration of justice. Here, Smith argued that the evidence was misleading to the jury, creating the impression that the accident was minor when, in reality, it was a major accident.
The Court of Appeals’ Opinion
The court agreed with the lower court’s opinion, condoning the use of the time-lapsed video as evidence. The court noted that the video tape “is a fair and accurate representation of a material fact, on foundational facts establishing the reliability of the process that yielded the photographic images.” This was enough to make the evidence reliable, probative, and therefore admissible.
Are You Considering Bringing a Georgia Personal Injury Suit?
If you have recently been injured in any kind of Georgia accident, you should consult with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Often, a case will turn on whether certain evidence is admitted at trial. In these situations, litigants are best served by having an experienced personal injury attorney to vigorously fight for the admission of the helpful evidence and fight against the admission of any harmful irrelevant evidence. Click here, or call 770-284-3727 to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney at Miller Legal Services about your case today.