Surveillance footage, commonly used in various establishments such as grocery stores, malls, and restaurants, has become a pivotal asset in personal injury claims, notably in slip and fall cases. This video evidence from security cameras provides a tangible, objective insight into the incidents, making it easier to pinpoint negligence on the owner’s part. Moreover, it can effectively counteract any attempts by insurance companies to shift the blame onto the victim. Yet, procuring this footage isn’t always straightforward.
How to Obtain Surveillance Video Footage
While the value of surveillance footage in slip-and-fall cases in places like Portland and Woodburn, OR, is undeniable, accessing it can be challenging.
- Consult an Attorney: Engaging an experienced personal injury attorney like those at Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law should be your first step. They can draft a spoliation letter to the property owner detailing your claim and demanding the video evidence while warning against its destruction.
- Lawsuit as a Last Resort: Some property owners, despite receiving a spoliation letter, might either decline to provide the footage or, worse, destroy it. In such scenarios, promptly filing a lawsuit becomes essential. The court can then issue a subpoena, compelling the owner to furnish the surveillance footage. If they’ve erased or overwritten the footage, they could face significant consequences, including an assumption of their negligence.
Retention Duration of Surveillance Footage
The duration for which surveillance footage is stored varies. No specific law dictates its retention. Given that many security systems operate on a loop, older recordings might be overwritten, be it daily, weekly, or after a few days. This variability underscores the importance of immediate action post-incident. Reporting your accident promptly ensures the owner is alerted about your claim, minimizing the risk of data loss.
How Oregon’s Judicial System Views and Assesses Video Evidence
In Portland and Woodburn, the importance of surveillance footage, particularly in slip and fall cases, is paramount. The courts treat it as an impartial witness that documents events as they unfold. Such video evidence—whether sourced from security cameras at businesses, red-light cameras, or even body-worn cameras—is gaining prominence in the legal landscape.
However, the acceptance of this evidence isn’t without its challenges. Every piece of video evidence presented is subjected to meticulous court analysis. Firstly, its authenticity is determined. The courts need to be assured that what they are seeing is a genuine representation of events and hasn’t been altered or tampered with. The clarity and quality of the footage, combined with reliable timestamps, are often scrutinized to ensure accuracy.
Navigating Challenges in Procuring Genuine Surveillance Footage
Obtaining surveillance footage, especially when it plays a critical role in establishing the sequence of events, can be met with unique challenges. Sometimes, technical difficulties can hamper the quality or availability of the footage. In other cases, property owners might be hesitant or evasive about providing access to the video. In these complex terrains, the advocacy and expertise of a seasoned law firm, such as Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law, known for profound influence in both Portland and Woodburn, becomes invaluable. Our experience and network can often pave the way to secure this indispensable piece of evidence, ensuring justice is served.
Real-World Impact of Surveillance Footage in Slip and Fall Cases
To appreciate the profound role surveillance footage can play in shaping the outcome of slip-and-fall lawsuits, let’s look at two actual cases in Oregon:
Oregon Jury Awards $1 Million in Punitive Damages for Slip and Fall
In December 2014, an 84-year-old man slipped on spilled liquid laundry detergent while walking down an aisle of a supermarket. A bakery worker at the supermarket had previously notified a store employee about the spill. The footage showed that, after being made aware, the employee took significant time to return to the area with cleaning equipment. No warnings about the spill were given to customers during this interval. As a result of his fall, the plaintiff broke his femur, requiring extensive surgery and a long, painful rehabilitation process. Over a year post-incident, he still experienced pain and discomfort, impacting his daily activities, such as gardening and spending time with his family. The jury, after five days of deliberation, awarded him approximately $1.6 million, $1 million of which was for punitive damages.
Oregon Courts Review Punitive Damages for Slip and Fall in Wood Village
On August 29, 2011, Imelda Cardenas suffered a fall due to a liquid spillage at the Wood Village Wal-Mart Supercenter Store. Alleging negligence on Wal-Mart’s part, Cardenas sought damages exceeding $75,000, leading to the case being removed to a higher court based on diversity jurisdiction.
During her shopping trip, neither Cardenas nor her accompanying family members spotted the liquid puddle before her fall. Surveillance footage did show Wal-Mart employees in proximity to the fall area for roughly an hour before and after the incident, leading Cardenas to argue that they should have discovered the spill with due diligence.
Despite a camera’s presence further up from where Cardenas slipped, it did not directly capture the spot of her fall. Following the accident, Cardenas sustained severe injuries, including a twisting, tearing, and wrenching of the soft tissues and muscles in her back, neck, and shoulder. Additionally, she endured a full-thickness tear of the distal supraspinatus tendon with associated complications. This traumatic experience not only subjected Cardenas to pain and interference with her normal activities but also resulted in economic losses from medical bills and anticipated future medical costs totaling $35,695. The case emphasized the potential consequences businesses could face if they fail to address hazards promptly and why clear video footage is so vital to your case.
In such situations, having access to surveillance footage can be instrumental in establishing the sequence of events and determining liability. If you’ve suffered serious injuries due to similar incidents, it’s crucial to consult an experienced slip and fall attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Partnering with Zbinden & Curtis: Portland and Woodburn’s Foremost Experts in Slip and Fall Cases
When navigating the complexities of slip-and-fall cases, especially where surveillance footage is involved, a partnership with a seasoned law firm becomes indispensable. Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law, renowned in Oregon, stands at the forefront of personal injury law. Our expertise, combined with a profound understanding of Oregon’s legal landscape, makes us the ideal choice for victims seeking justice.