A personal injury trial is something of a time machine. The injured plaintiff's lawyer is showing the jury evidence of an incident that may have occurred three years earlier. One of the most important jobs of the trial lawyer is to make the event seem real, to take the jurors out of their current lives and back to the scene of the event that injured his client. Words are remarkably powerful for that purpose, but not enough. An experienced trial lawyer will use visual materials such as photographs, diagrams, videos, even animations, to help the jury understand what happened, and to make it feel current.
Any time an incident happened out of doors, if an understanding of the scene is important, as it usually is, aerial photography is a powerful tool for giving the jury a greater understanding of how an accident occurred, and why it was due to the defendant's negligence. I used aerial photography in a case I handled not too long ago, involving a man, my client, who was struck while crossing a busy street while in the middle of a well-marked crosswalk. I wanted to make sure that I could convey (the case settled at a mediation) that the defendant driver would have had a clear sight line for ample time to avoid striking my client, if she had been paying attention. As it turned out, discovery showed that she was talking on her cell phone when she blew through the crosswalk and hit my client. Street level photographs were helpful, but simply did not convey enough of the roadway to give a complete picture. The aerial photos from the company I hired, showed with striking clarity, a long length of roadway. It was immediately apparent that it would have been hard for any driver to have struck my client in the crosswalk unless she was seriously distracted. I have used aerial photography in a number of suitable cases, and have always been delighted with the results. They represent a great tool in the plaintiff attorney's arsenal, in the right case.