When attorneys handle a case involving paralysis or other catastrophic injuries, one of the biggest challenges is effectively portraying their impact on the client’s life. Words are powerful, but go only so far. One of the most effective tools available to the trial lawyer is the day in the life video. These videos show more dramatically than any verbal description, the difficulties posed by the routine movements of daily life, such as dressing, bathing and moving.
Not anybody with a camera will be a good videographer. The day in the life professional must balance visual candor with preserving the client’s dignity. Jurors may react negatively, even subconsciously, if they are repulsed or embarrassed by what they see. I have used a day in the life photographer for a number of years who has learned this balance. Clients appreciate the respect with which she treats the most intimate details of their lives.
In one case I handled, a client who was paralyzed as a result of being dropped from a stretcher, needed to use a mechanical lift to move from her bed to a chair. The device looked like something from a medieval dungeon and the process was slow and difficult. The day in the life captured it far beyond words. This case settled in advance of trial, largely due to the day in the life video. In another case, of brain damage to an infant from a medication overdose, the day in the life video was essential to making the jury understand the limitations of the child’s daily life.
The skill and experience of the photographer is essential. The video must usually be less than 30 minutes long and yet capture various tasks and movement taking place over the course of hours. Sometimes the photographer will need more than one session. Although it is not required, and some lawyers may disagree with the tactic, I generally send the other side the unedited version of the tape to prevent any objections that the editing was somehow deceptive. However used, the day in the life video is an essential tool in any case of devastating injury.