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  • Writer's pictureEunice Moore

Surveillance

Updated: Jun 4

If a picture is worth a thousand words, would a video be worth exponentially more? The Texas Supreme Court, in its seminal holding in Diamond Offshore Servs., v. Williams, 542 S.W.3d 539 (2018) believes so. I often think, how terrible to have suffered an injury at someone else's hands and live in constant paranoia. Do these thoughts run through my client's mind: "Will I be under surveillance if I go to the park?", "Can I garden for 5 minutes and how will that affect my case?" --No, surveillance is likely the last thing my client's are thinking. Mostly they are grieving---grieving the loss of enjoyment in their life, the loss of companionship, the loss of a life, the loss of physical activity. The list is endless. However, the company on the other side of the v will stop at nothing to gather the evidence they want to show a jury, even if it has the potential to be misleading. This is why it is always critical to hire an experienced personal injury law firm who can advise you every step of the way.


In Diamond Offshore, the Court concluded that before a trial court could rule surveillance as inadmissible, they first must view the video to weigh the potential propensity the relevance would be outweighed by the prejudicial effect. See, Diamond Offshore, 542 S.W.3d at 542 (Tex. 2018). Texas Rules of Evidence 403 discusses what is relevant in a lawsuit--does a fact have something to do with what the injured party is seeking recovery or something to do with a defense to recovery? In the end, a $10,000,000.00 verdict was overturned because of surveillance.


As lawyers who represent injured parties, we have to consider the effect surveillance could have on a jury, especially when the surveillance only reveals a 'snapshot' of what the reality is. The Court in Diamond Offshore analyzed whether the surveillance was obtained for a significant period of time, with obvious and clear date/time stamps, whether it's possible the surveillance was edited, whether the content would amount to cumulative evidence, whether it had a tendency to encourage a jury to decide on improper basis, whether it was captured on different dates to show the effect of what was captured, whether the individual who captured the surveillance did so under permissible grounds, and of course whether the content would be helpful in proving or disproving a material fact in the lawsuit--even credibility.


When faced with a choice whether to handle your personal injury case yourself or hire an attorney, always consider that there are issues a seasoned, experienced trial attorney may need to advise you on. If you or someone you know needs legal advice for a personal injury matter, call 844- SRTA MAS.


Eunice Fernandez Moore is an attorney at The Law Offices of George Salinas, a personal injury trial firm. She is a 2019 recipient of Texas Top 100 Jury Verdicts and is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association, Bexar County Women's Lawyers Association, and the Texas Young Lawyers Association. Eunice is married to Austin Caleb Moore, and in February 2020 they welcomed their first child, Luke Alexander Moore into this world. In 2022, the welcomed their second boy Elijah Joseph (after her late brother) Moore into this world. The information contained within this article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.



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