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. Continue reading →