John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. Today I’m here with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough, of the law firm of Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Robert and Kevin have a great deal of experience as dog bite attorneys, and today we’re going to be talking about the importance of photographs in a dog bite case.
Robert and Kevin, welcome.
Robert Mazow: Thank you, John.
Kevin McCullough: Thanks for having us.
John: Sure. How important are photographs in a dog bite case?
Robert: It’s probably the most important part of a case, when presenting the physical damages of a dog bite. There’s generally two parts to the dog bite injury – the physical damages and the emotional damages.
The physical damages need to be portrayed in such a way to the insurance company that they understand that there is a scar, where the scar is, how the scar appears during different parts of the day, or different parts of the life of the scar. It’s critical.
John: I’d have to imagine, too, that the human body being what it is, we start to heal pretty quickly. There’s an incident, you’re bit by a dog, or you have a child that’s bit by a dog, and then within a couple of days, I would imagine that the injuries are going to start to look a little bit better.
They’re going to start to heal a little bit. It would be important to have photographs, right from the beginning of when that incident occurred. Would that be true?
Robert: I couldn’t agree more. Again, it depends on the depth of the bite, the location of the bite. You are correct that the human body heals miraculously. What a scar might look like in the emergency room is going to look completely different two years later, depending on where the scar is and how deep the scar is.
Kevin and I always suggest keeping a photographic journal of the life of the scar, so you really can keep track of how it looks.
Kevin: John, as you mentioned, the human body can change dramatically in a few days. It really depends upon where on the body the person may have been bit, and it also can vary dramatically depending upon the age or size of the victim.
Photographic evidence throughout the healing process in the case, and then just preserving that evidence for presentment down the road, is as Rob mentioned, one of the most important factors.
John: Is it important to hire a professional photographer, or is this something that you can do yourself?
Kevin: I don’t think it’s necessary to have to hire a professional photographer. If you can capture an accurate image of what the injury really looks like, on your own, or with a professional photographer, that would be suitable.
You just want to make sure the lighting is good, that it really portrays what the victim is dealing with at that given time, [and] when you’re taking the picture.
John: These days, a lot of people have smart phones with cameras on them. Just about everybody now has access to a camera that’s of pretty decent quality, so you can get some good photographs, even on your own.
Robert: Yeah. What we’re seeing lately is the client [has the\ ability to take multiple images, [and] email them to us. We can preserve them in our computer file. It actually helps in the settlement process [by] having those photographs available and providing them to the insurance companies.
John: Are there specific photographs that need to be taken? I’m wondering whether or not you need some more distant shots or some more close up shots of the injuries. What about pictures of the location where the incident happened, things like that?
Robert: All of that is important. First of all, as far as the kind of photographs, close ups are important. It’s also important that the insurance company sees a picture of the full body, so they can get some perspective on what the person looks like as a whole, as opposed to just a close up of a scar on their arm, or something like that.
It would be also important to somehow capture the date that the photograph was taken. Cameras these days can do that, or the email that it comes with, can automatically set the date that the picture was taken.
As far as the scene, [it’s] less important, but if you’re ultimately going to present the case to a jury, it’s important for the jury to get a feel of the location – if it happened outside, if it happened inside, if it was tight quarters, if it was in a private establishment, [or] in an open field. That would be less important than the actual physical damages.
John: What’s the proper format for photographs, and what photographs should be provided to the victim’s attorney? You talked a little bit about making sure that the date, if possible, is on the pictures. [Are there] any other formats that we need to be thinking about?
Kevin: The photographs [should] be, what we call authenticated, as far as when they were taken [and] who took the picture. Beyond that, as long as we preserve what we want to preserve within the photograph, and we save that in a manner that we can introduce at trial, we usually don’t run into any particular issue as far as the format.
John: You mentioned making sure that you have evidence over the course of that injury [as it] is healing. Should you be taking pictures immediately after the incident and then every day after that, or maybe is it weekly?
When do you stop? When do you stop taking pictures?
Robert: The timing of the pictures can vary dramatically depending upon the severity of the injury, and it will vary from case to case. It is important to capture a few images of the wound early on, so that everyone involved knows what the victim was dealing with.
It can be weekly. It can be monthly. It can be bi‑monthly. It really depends, but as long as there is a timeline of what that victim has gone through at each particular phase, that would be sufficient to present the claim.
John: That’s great information. Kevin and Robert, thanks for speaking with me today.
Robert: Thank you, John.
John: For more information on dog bite cases, or other personal injury cases, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com, or call 855‑693‑9084.