Recording big moments and everyday life through videos has become increasingly common alongside technological improvements and its many uses in today’s world. But videos can also be an extremely valuable form of evidence in personal injury lawsuits in Virginia and throughout the U.S. From documenting an accident scene to a business security camera that catches the events that led to a fall, a video can strengthen a lawsuit by providing a clear look at what actually happened.
In recent years, a powerful type of video footage that is helping personal injury victims get the insurance payout, settlement, or jury award they deserve is from police body-worn cameras (BWCs). In April 2023, the City of Alexandria Police Department began rolling out body cameras for their officers to wear as part of their required gear, with the goal of getting every officer a camera within a year. As more and more cities in Virginia make body cameras a part of standard uniforms, the role of video evidence of this kind will become more common.
Police worn body cameras are just what they sound like; they are video cameras that also record audio from the responding police officer’s point of view. Unlike vehicle dashboard cameras, body cameras provide a closer – and better – look at accident scenes, as police survey what happened and speak to witnesses and those involved. They show important details that, when combined with an experienced personal injury lawyer, can lead to a stronger claim or lawsuit.
At Curcio Law, our Virginia personal injury attorneys have used police body camera video to help strengthen various cases, including car, bicycle, and pedestrian lawsuits. We have the experience to collect and leverage this vital evidence.
How Police Body Cameras Help Personal Injury Lawsuits
Thanks to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, members of the public may request body-worn camera files from the police. This is also known as a FOIA request. This video footage is incredibly valuable for personal injury cases. In general, body camera footage is admissible in civil claims in Virginia, such as car accident lawsuits, and can show the crash scene, witness statements, and severity of the injuries at the scene. They can also potentially show video footage of car crash victims being extracted from their cars if they are trapped as a result of the crash.
Police Body Cameras Show the State of Involved Parties
In certain types of civil lawsuits, such as pedestrian accidents, body camera evidence gives a close look at the state of the people involved in the incident. Unfortunately, many motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents occur when someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Body cameras can be powerful evidence in a personal injury claim when police interview and conduct a sobriety test on a drunk driver immediately following a crash.
In addition, under Virginia law, punitive damages can be sought when someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver. Body camera footage that shows the other party slurring, stumbling, and failing a sobriety test helps increase the chance of victims being compensated for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
Police Body Cameras Help Determine Fault in Virginia Personal Injury Cases
There can be a lot of finger pointing in many personal injury cases, especially motor vehicle accidents. And with Virginia’s harsh contributory negligence law, which prevents any type of recovery if a party contributed to the accident, it is very difficult to refute a word vs. word case without additional evidence. This is where body camera footage can be beneficial. It can show the accident scene, the weather, people’s injuries, and interviews with witnesses and the parties involved. Capturing the wreckage and asking witnesses what they saw can help ensure every detail is recorded – while it is fresh in everyone’s minds – and police body camera footage can help establish fault this way.
Hire an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are injured in an accident, you will not be focused on gathering evidence right away, and yet, the sooner crucial details are collected, the better. This is where an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney comes in. At Curcio Law, our lawyers protect clients’ rights and fight on their behalf so they can focus on recovering from their injuries. In many cases, such as Virginia pedestrian accidents, police body camera footage has become essential to personal injury claims. We know how to get it and use it to strengthen your case. If you have been injured in an accident, contact us online or call or text 703-836-3366 for a free consultation.
Justin Curcio joined Curcio Law in January 2020. Justin received his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in 2015. After passing the Virginia Bar in 2015, Justin was in-house counsel for an insurance defense firm (Allstate/Esurance/Encompass) for over four years before joining Curcio Law. During law school, he worked for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the law firm of Bartlett, McDonough & Monaghan, LLP. Contact Justin at email@example.com.