Personal Injury Accidents & Surveillance Cameras
If you were injured in a store, apartment building, music venue or other public space, there is a chance your accident was caught on surveillance cameras. The owners and tenants of these premises are on a duty to preserve any surveillance footage if they know or should know that a claim will be made for your injuries. If this video surveillance is destroyed or otherwise lost, this may be considered “spoliation” of evidence and trial courts will often sanction the party disposing of the video.
At Louis Grandelli, P.C., once we are retained, we promptly notify the owners and tenants of the premises where an accident occurred of your claims, thereby putting them on notice that litigation is pending and to preserve any surveillance footage and removing any defense they could raise that they did not believe a claim would be made. After this notice, should they fail to preserve the evidence, we will argue that their failure constitutes spoliation of evidence.
However, even in cases where surveillance footage was destroyed prior to the defendants’ receipt of our preservation letter, Louis Grandelli, P.C. has been successful in arguing to trial court that the defendants nevertheless willfully destroyed key evidence, and should be sanctioned. This is because we have argued that the defendants should have been known of the potential for a lawsuit from the fact that the plaintiff was injured on their property alone.
Even in cases where the defendants disclosed a portion of a video, if the defendants failed to keep unedited video surveillance showing the condition of the premises before the injury occurred, this may also be subject to sanctions. For example, in NYCHA v. Pro Quest, 108 A.D.3d 471 (1st Dept. 2013), the Appellate Division held that sanctions were warranted when a party turned over only a redacted video instead of the entire video.
The sanction often given by courts in these situations is called a “negative inference” charge. This means that at the trial, the judge will instruct the jury that they are to infer that whatever was depicted on the destroyed surveillance footage assisted the plaintiff’s case and hurt the defense. This is a powerful tool when litigating your case and can be very intimidating to the defendants.
If you had a personal injury accident that may have been caught on surveillance cameras, contact the lawyers at Louis Grandelli, P.C. We have the experience and expertise to ensure that either the video is exchanged or that the defendants receive a penalty if a court deems that the defendant willfully or negligently destroyed key evidence.