Time Lapse Videos

We have blogged in the past about surveillance cameras and their role in personal injury law as evidence. Since then, an interesting case came out regarding some of the intricacies of video evidence. In Smith v. Geico, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D2477, Smith sued Geico for injuries he received while in an accident riding a public bus. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Smith, granting him $20,000 for past medical expenses, but the jury gave him nothing for his future damages because they didn’t find his injuries were permanent. Smith appealed and one of his arguments on appeal was that the trial judge erred by allowing Geico to present surveillance video that was time-lapsed. This meant that the video only showed four to five frames per second instead of a real time video that shows twenty-nine to thirty frames per second.

The appeals court issued an opinion that found that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion by allowing the time-lapsed video into evidence for two main reasons. First, the proper predicate was laid to introduce the video into evidence as it was established that the video was a fair and accurate depiction of the event in questions and that the time-lapse nature of the video does not make the video inadmissible on its own. Second, the Court found that the probative value of the evidence outweighed any prejudicial effect of introducing a time lapse video to the jury. The Court stated that the attorney representing Smith was free to make the argument to the jury that the video doesn’t show every frame and that things could have happened in between frames that they can’t see. The Court also failed to see how the time lapse video wasn’t similar to a photograph being introduced into evidence. For the time being, it appears that time lapse video is admissible in a court of law as long as it relates to the issues of the case and is a fair and accurate depiction of a relevant event to the case.