Video as an effective tool in major PI cases
A 'Day in the Life' video can show clearly the extent of the impact of an injury on the claimant, helping to secure the settlement they deserve, writes Amanda Richardson
At the settlement stage of high-value personal injury and medical negligence cases, it is essential to fully demonstrate the impact of the injury to the claimant. This can be difficult to convey in a formal setting far removed from the claimant's everyday life; however, video presents an excellent opportunity to take the courtroom to the claimant and show very clearly the impact of the trauma on the claimant's daily routine.
A 'Day in the Life' video provides a study of the claimant's day, from their waking up at first light to going to bed at night, and can show very clearly the extent of the difficulties and restrictions a claimant faces throughout their day. A well-produced Day in the Life video gives an accurate and detailed study of a claimant's personal situation and can portray housing conditions and mobility issues, as well as the issues surrounding day-to-day activities in the home and out and about, whether at school, work, physiotherapy, the gym, supermarket, or playground.
Atticus Productions has made Day in the Life videos for a range of claimants, including children with cerebral palsy, amputees, individuals with spinal injuries, and the young and the old with cognitive and physical difficulties. To see the activity of brushing your teeth or eating with or without help can be a very powerful way to convey the daily difficulties the claimant suffers, and a well-produced and high-quality video study of their day can have a clear impact on the amount of damages secured.
Atticus Productions has been producing these Day in the Life videos for top UK lawyers since 1995 and, as producer-director, I believe one key to their success is thorough research before filming begins.
I spend several days reading the case notes and expert witness reports in order to build a clear picture of the claimant's life and to identify the best activities to film in order that we can illustrate their day-to-day experience fully. I work closely with the instructing lawyer, the claimant's family, and their case management and support teams in order to get access to all the critical parts of their day and to ensure everyone is comfortable with the filming. By the nature of the work, these are difficult cases and the claimant's particular circumstances must be taken into careful account when planning a Day in the Life shoot. Out of this I build a shooting script and arrange all necessary consents and permissions for the carers, health professionals, and family members who may be filmed.
This thoroughness makes Atticus Productions' approach stand out. On one recent case, the casework included mention of the claimant's love of sea swimming prior to the accident that resulted in a lower leg amputation. The consequence of the accident had made sea swimming impossible to contemplate. On learning how important this activity was to the wellbeing of the claimant, Marylen Nash, we included footage of her in a hydrotherapy pool. This activity was providing her with the opportunity to regain her confidence in water and it also led to her being awarded additional funding for a wet limb as part of her settlement.
A shooting day for one of these films can last up to 18 hours, although filming can occasionally be done over a longer period - for example, to show a particular activity or specialist support that may only happen intermittently, or to break the shooting down for the claimant. Once the material is thoroughly logged, I work with a professional former BBC editor to edit the material and produce the final crafted, one-day snapshot of the claimant's day with its particular circumstances and challenges. The completed videos range in length usually from 30 to 45 minutes.
The quality of the final film is important.
The most significant function of these films is the life they portray, so it is important that the film includes everything it should and does not suffer with poor filming or bad editing. We pride ourselves on producing high-quality films that do full justice to the claimant and their case.
After a long career at the BBC making high-profile and multi-award-winning documentaries, I bring highly attuned observational documentary skills to each Atticus Day in the Life video production.
These films require intimate and sensitive sensibilities during filming, and accuracy and detail in their coverage. Ultimately, a well-produced Day in the Life video can be a highly effective tool in persuading defendants to settle and avoid prolonged legal proceedings. Because of this and the experience of working with these individuals, these are some of the most rewarding projects I am involved with and I look forward to making many more. SJ
Amanda Richardson is producer-director at Atticus Productions and a first-tier APIL expert