Beware of Eavesdropping in Your Personal Injury Case

Following your Orange County car crash or other personal injury accident, you will soon learn that your ability to recover full compensation for your injuries and expenses will depend in large part on your ability to show that another person is responsible for causing the accident or incident that resulted in your injuries. Absent a confession or admission of fault, this task can only be completed through the use of evidence and perhaps the testimony of one or more witnesses.

Suppose, however, that while out at a restaurant you see the person you believed caused your injuries in a secluded corner talking on his or her phone. He or she is obviously talking about the crash or accident and begins to make statements admitting fault and responsibility to the person to whom he or she is talking. Before you pull out your smartphone and begin recording the conversation, take time to consider whether your intended course of action might be criminal.

Eavesdropping in California

When a person utilizes an electronic recording device such as a digital recorder, a digital camcorder, a smartphone, or another similar device to record a confidential conversation of another without the consent of every party to the conversation, that person has committed the crime of eavesdropping. Not only does this subject you to potential civil and criminal fines, but you could also be incarcerated for up to one year. Obtaining a confession or admission of guilt through illegal means can cause the court hearing your personal injury case to exclude such confession from consideration at trial.

Whether a conversation is “confidential” or not depends on the specific facts present at the time the communication was made. Key to making this determination is whether the parties appeared to have intended that their conversation be private and confidential. While speaking at a public restaurant at a table may not indicate an intention for a communication to remain private, going to a secluded area of that same restaurant and deliberately communicating as far away from others as possible may lead a court to a different conclusion.

Does This Mean I Can Never Record an Admission or Confession?

California’s eavesdropping law does not prevent you, for example, from electronically recording a statement the at-fault party makes to you if the at-fault party gives you permission to record his or her statement. Nor does the law prevent you from making a written record of statements you overhear the at-fault party make in a public setting.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a California personal injury accident, speak with us at Case Barnett Law about your situation as well as evidence that might potentially be available for you to use in your quest for compensation. Call us at (949) 861-2990, or reach out to us using our online contact form.

Defenses in California Personal Injury Cases

When one begins talking about legal defenses, it is common to assume that a criminal case is being discussed. However, defenses are relevant in both criminal and civil cases alike, in defending against criminal charges and allegations of civil wrongs. Some of the defenses a defendant in a civil case might raise are merely designed to challenge the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s evidence of liability against him or her; other defenses are such that the defendant admits that he or she engaged in wrongful conduct but that this was somehow excusable under the facts and circumstances of the situation.

Why Plaintiffs Should be Aware of Potential Defenses

Crafting a winning strategy with your personal injury attorney requires considering potential defenses that the defendant might raise. Doing so helps ensure that you locate the appropriate witnesses and/or evidence to prove your case.

In any California personal injury case, defenses that might be raised include:

  • Did not engage in careless behavior: One of the most basic defenses to civil liability involves the defendant claiming that his or her actions or behaviors were not “careless” or “negligent” in that a reasonable person might have engaged in the same actions or behaviors that he or she did. This can be raised by argument and/or through challenging the conclusions of the plaintiff’s witnesses.
  • Plaintiff’s own carelessness: This defense strategy does not seek to absolve the defendant of all responsibility for his or her actions, but instead seeks to assert that the primary or predominant cause of your injuries was your own carelessness. A successful defense of this sort lessens the defendant’s civil liability. Just as you (the plaintiff) must come forward with evidence of the defendant’s carelessness, so too the defendant must prove your carelessness with evidence and/or testimony of witnesses of his or her own.
  • Necessity: One is legally permitted to otherwise enter another person’s land if it reasonably appears to the person that trespassing on the other person’s land is necessary to prevent someone from suffering serious harm or death. This is another affirmative defense which requires the defendant to bring forth witnesses and/or evidence to establish that such a necessity existed by a preponderance of the evidence.

Work with an Experienced Orange County Personal Injury Attorney

At Case Barnett Law, we understand that when you file a personal injury lawsuit, you have one chance of success. That is why we invest the time and resources in locating evidence that will help prove your case and defeat any potential defenses the defendant. This helps you have the best possible opportunity for recovering full and fair compensation following a car wreck, slip and fall, or other California personal injury accident. By contacting Case Barnett Law early, we can better utilize our resources and skill to strengthen your case. Call us to discuss your personal injury case with us today: call (949) 861-2990, or reach out to us online.