The Florida Court of Appeals has trashed a claim for $90,000 in damages to a sidewalk slip and fall victim due to an unauthenticated Google Maps photos used as primary evidence in her case.
According to reports made by the Daily Business Review, the Third District Court of Appeal decided to rule against the victim Juanita Kho, who alleged that—while walking, she slipped and fell on a Miami sidewalk in 2010.
Kho’s case was bolstered by a Google Maps photo showing the state of the sidewalk with a date stamp of November 2007. This was introduced with the intention of showing the negligence of the city of Miami, alleging that the authorities should have known the faulty state of the sidewalk.
The plaintiff had put forward an expert who verified that the Google Maps photo is in no way substantially different compared to a physical photo taken of the scene on the date that Kho had fallen.
The photo was introduced following the condition to prove that the city of Miami had actual or constructive knowledge of the sidewalk’s conditions. The photo was submitted to show constructive knowledge according to the Oct. 16 opinion made by the appeals court.
However, due to a lack of testimony and proper authentication from either a Google Maps representative or an expert on the Google Maps system, the evidence was deemed unreliable.
The court of appeals has explained their intentions for not allowing the photo as evidence due to the lack of evidence supporting the photo. Stating that there was a lack of knowledge and hard evidence regarding the operating capabilities, reliability, and condition of the equipment Google Maps used to capture the image. Asserting that a lack of testimony surrounding the procedures Google Maps uses in taking the photograph ultimately takes Kho’s evidence into question.
Further, the court of appeals clarifies that the trial court made an error in allowing the photo to be put forth as evidence and that, in the absence of the photo, the plaintiff would have no evidence proving that the city of Miami had constructive knowledge of the faulty sidewalk.
The court went on to clarify that despite the contention to the admission of the Google Maps image as a harmless mistake, they have found that it was in fact, not. Stating that the trial court had allowed the unauthenticated image to be the basis of their denial of the direct verdict only on the Google Maps evidence that was deemed inadmissible.
The court of appeals has reversed the verdict and awarded the case in favor of Miami.
It can be noted that there are several incidences like this that happen across the states each year, and with cities like Los Angeles that’s rife with accidents just waiting to happen, it can be helpful to know that it is important that you arm yourself with the best legal counsel you can find.
DAG Law Firm is a good place to start looking for an attorney to back you up on your claims. Arming yourself with a reliable and competent legal guide will ensure that your case doesn’t turn out the same way Juanita Kho’s did, awarded to the opposition.
With that said, there are a series of steps you need to take the moment you slip and fall whether it be on commercial or public property.
The court and insurers will require that you provide uncontested proof that your fall resulted in their negligence to maintain an area with traffic. Providing authenticated photos and video recordings of the scene and your injuries will help you to solidify your concerns and help you make your claims uncontested.
In the case of Juanita Kho, a Google Maps image was presented as undeniable proof, however, the lack of an expert in or representative from Google Maps authenticating the evidence she presented caused the court to close the case against her.
Once you have documentation, it is important to notify the highest-ranking authority you can find. In commercial areas, you should notify the owner of the property or a manager, whereas, in public places, you should head to your town or city hall and alert whoever is in charge.
Alerting the highest authority immediately will strengthen your evidence and prove that you did, in fact, slip and fall under their jurisdiction. This is even truer if there were no witnesses around to testify in favor of your claims.
Once you have established your primary evidence, it is important to seek medical attention for your injuries and have the medical staff, most especially the attending physician provide a report of your injuries. It is also important to run tests as necessary and keep a copy of that information to submit as evidence in court.
While gathering medical evidence, it is also important to request a care plan for the aftermath of your injuries as directed by the attending physician. This will help the court and your legal counsel determine the amount in damages you can reasonably file a claim for.
A competent attorney will ensure you win your case and just compensation for the damages indirectly done to you will be delivered. Finding the right attorney and knowing what to do in accidents like this will ensure that you don’t end up like Juanita Kho.