Occasionally, the defense in a New Orleans personal injury lawsuit will conduct surveillance of the plaintiff. The purpose of this surveillance is to gather information to demonstrate that the plaintiff is not as injured as he or she claims.
Although the defense may have a videotape of your activities that they wish to show a jury, there is no requirement that the court allow them to do so. In Louisiana, whether motion pictures or video tapes are admissible at trial is largely within the discretion of the trial court. Such surveillance videotapes are also subject to discovery prior to trial, which means the defense must turn over any videotapes to the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney prior to trial if they have been requested.
After reviewing the videotape, your personal injury attorney may request that the court bar the defense from using it at trial. When this request is made, the court will usually review the recording outside of the presence of a jury and determine whether the tape – or portions of it – may be shown to the jury. Deciding if such a tape will be admitted as evidence requires the judge to analyze whether its probative value is outweighed by any prejudicial effect it may have on the plaintiff.
While it may seem that a recording of the plaintiff’s activities would always have great value to the jury, the courts of Louisiana have specifically noted that this type of evidence must be considered with great caution because it usually shows only intervals of the subject’s activities, does not show rest periods, and does not reflect whether the subject is suffering pain during or after the activity. As a result, even when a surveillance tape is admitted as evidence, the jury will be instructed that it must consider elements not shown on the tape when weighing this evidence.
If you have suffered a personal injury and have any questions, we would be happy to answer them. We can be reached at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.