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Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice

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Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice

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It is over 30 years since I started undertaking personal injury work and 20 since I first wrote a paper about this area in the Journal of Audiovisual Media in Medicine, now Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine. Looking at the current situation: What is the same? What has changed? What is the future for Personal Injury Photography?

This paper will address the similarities and differences between clinical, forensic and personal injury photography including the principles behind the use of photography in litigation. It will also look at the state of casework in the UK and suggest possible ways forward to maximize the value to clinical photography departments in the view of the current legislation and marketplace for personal injury work.

It is over 30 years since I started undertaking personal injury work and 20 since I first wrote a paper about this area in the Journal of Audiovisual Media in Medicine, now Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine. Looking at the current situation: What is the same? What has changed? What is the future for Personal Injury Photography?

This paper will address the similarities and differences between clinical, forensic and personal injury photography including the principles behind the use of photography in litigation. It will also look at the state of casework in the UK and suggest possible ways forward to maximize the value to clinical photography departments in the view of the current legislation and marketplace for personal injury work.

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Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice

  1. 1. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Personal Injury Photography Principles and Practice
  2. 2. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Personal Injury Photography • Different names, what kind of work is it and who is doing it? • What is your role as a Personal Injury Photographer? Duties and responsibilities. • Photographic practice – Clinical Photography++ • National need for Personal Injury Photographers and markets
  3. 3. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Different names? • Legal photography • Evidence photography • Personal injury photography • Medicolegal or medical legal photography • Scar photography • Forensic photography • Photographs for civil litigation
  4. 4. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice What and where? • Road Traffic Accidents • Occupational: Accident at Work Illness or Disease contracted through Work • Clinical Negligence / Medical Negligence • Armed Forces / Military Personnel Injury • Sports injury e.g. bites to ears. • Environmental Health and Hazards in the Environment including dangerous products, trips and falls, dog bites. • Mainly civil but also Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and some criminal/defense work. • Photography in prison and in custody.
  5. 5. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Clinical, forensic and personal injury photography Clinical Forensic Personal Injury Child abuse Elder abuse Bedsores Assault and battery Medicolegal Occupational injuries Traffic accidents Dog bites “in loco doctoris” Criminal courts Civil courts Pathological photography Clinical negligence
  6. 6. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Who is undertaking this work? • Trained clinical photographers working in NHS and University Departments and Independently. • Forensic specialists as part of their work alongside Road Accident Analysis. • General High Street Photographers • Consultants doing reports and photographs • Dentists (Actually have an obligation to take dentolegal records for litigation purposes) • Family and friends of injured party • Self-photography
  7. 7. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice What is your role as a Personal Injury Photographer? You are acting as Expert Witnesses for the court
  8. 8. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Experts and expert witnesses Who is an expert? “An expert can be anyone with knowledge or experience of a particular field or discipline beyond that to be expected of a layman. An expert witness is an expert who makes this knowledge and experience available to a court to help it understand the issues of a case and thereby reach a sound and just decision.” UK Register of Expert Witnesses No win, no fee? Does not apply to experts or they would have a pecuniary interest in the result of a case when they need to be objective.
  9. 9. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Legal obligations • Avoid the possibility of conflict of interest in cases of clinical negligence. • Be sufficiently qualified to undertake the work. Overriding duty • It is the duty of an expert to help the court on the matters relevant to his expertise • This duty overrides any obligation to the person from whom he has received instructions or by whom he is paid. • A set of personal injury photographs which fail to reproduce certain details in the subject when those details are of evidential value is just as misleading as a witness who tells a story and leaves out important facts.
  10. 10. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Professional qualifications •The courts recognise that in in experienced, trustworthy and disinterested hands the capable of a very high degree of accuracy. •The court also takes judicial cognizance of the fact that in careless, unskilled or interested hands, it may produce misleading and confusing results.
  11. 11. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice What additional skills are required? • Ability to understand and interpret the medical consultants report. •Able to work out required photographs from the medical report and •Subsequently to taking photographs required work out if any additional photographs are required on observing the clients injuries. •These are in relation to your understanding of the legal requirements and basis for personal injury claims.
  12. 12. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Principles behind the use of photography in civil litigation. Clinical photography++ • Standardized representational photography in terms of clinical views, plus • Photographs that help to demonstrate the injuries and their sequelae towards: Provision of evidence • Quantum of damage • Pain and suffering • Establishing causation of injury, liability and blame • Rehabilitation needs, access and activities of daily living (ADL) • Establishing a prognosis
  13. 13. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Evidence towards means of establishing compensation • Quantum or packets e.g. a scar, a bony injury, a certain amount or quantity of muscle loss. • Compensation comes from the word “Compensare” meaning “to balance”. • In personal injury litigation this is usually pecuniary return against loss to return you to the status you would have been in without the injury.
  14. 14. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice WHO Model Impairment Disability Handicap Language Hearing Vision Speaking Listening Seeing Orientation Skeletal Dressing, feeding Physical independence Walking Mobility Pyschological Behaving Social integration
  15. 15. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Use of WHO Model for injury assessment Criterion Description Photographs Diseases or disorder Damage to flexor tendon Theatre or A&E records of torn tendon Impairment Loss of complete opposition of thumb Standardized views of injury Range of movement of thumb Disability Loss of pincer grip Inability to produce grip Handicap Inability to work with hand Holding needle with fingers not fingers and thumb
  16. 16. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice National need for Personal Injury Photographers and marketing
  17. 17. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Local solicitors likely to look to local photographers Larger firms needing photographers throughout the country Marketing solutions Local marketing of services to solicitors in hospital catchment National collective marketing and referral required Market needs
  18. 18. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Institute of Medical Illustrators According to Find a Professional only 6 members are undertaking this work out of 59 photographers.
  19. 19. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice What is the future for Personal Injury Photography? •Is this the visible face of clinical photography? •If a photographers in departments or freelance are doing this work what training/personal development are they doing to be enable them to undertake this work? •If there does end up being an issue raised in the courts are we prepared for any side effects or impacts on the clinical photography profession?
  20. 20. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice Ways of moving forward and supporting each other Strength in numbers • Collaborating and working in and with national networks Registration • We have a lot going for us as Clinical Photographers. However, competence as a clinical photographer ≠ competence as a personal injury photographer. Training • Learning materials to support the development of personal injury photographers e.g. online interactive learning materials, webinars including formative feedback and tutorial support. • Personal Injury Photography Support site e.g. website or private facebook/LinkedIn group
  21. 21. Personal Injury Photography: Principles and Practice If you would like to be included on my e- mail list for when the materials are ready please e-mail me at d.bryson@cladonia.co.uk or just want a copy of the presentation slides. NB Will be without clinical type slides. First stage is likely to be a survey of photographers and later development of materials for beta testing before final materials and site ready for everybody.

Editor's Notes

  • Can’t possibly cover everything but will provide a possible solution at the end of the lecture.
  • Note crossovers into both Clinical and Forensic photography
  • Is the role of a personal injury photographer different from that of the forensic photographer or clinical photographer?

    Where are the photographs going?
    Forensic evidence towards a police investigation for criminal proceedings
    personal injury evidence for civil court insurers
    clinical diagnostic and clinical records for patient’s notes
  • Consultants doing reports and photographs
    Dentists (Actually have an obligation to take dentolegal records for litigation purposes)
  • What does this mean in terms of professional practice?
  • As an expert witness you have certain legal obligations
  • or may occasionally be a barristers report
  • There is a medical model of disability but a better one for determining what to photograph is the WHO Model of Impairment, Disability and Handicap
  • What a personal injury photographer is required to do hasn’t changed since the first photographers were involved in this area. Principally alongside the railways and the number of injuries due to people doing things like walking on tracks trying to get on trains before the days of platforms. What has changed is the business models and how solicitors work.
  • There are some examples of this already but needs to be driven by a larger organization to have the marketing power to influence the market.
    For example a specialist group within a national professional body like IMI or to creation of a new photographic organisation dedicated to Personal Injury Photography. US closest is EPIC http://www.evidencephotographers.com/aboutEPIC.html Evidence Photographers International Council
  • According to Find a Professional only 6 members are undertaking this work out of 59 photographers
  • Just as there are incompetent and unqualified plastic surgeons there are incompetent and unqualified photographers.
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