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LNCtips.com: Photo Chronologies


Photo chronologies can provide an easy way for plaintiffs to document damages in lawsuits.  Typically, a photo chronology shows starkly contrasted pictures of the plaintiff prior to and after alleged negligence.  Photo chronologies are particularly effective for plastic surgery cases, but I've seen them in other types of medical malpractice claims as well as nursing home and personal injury cases.  Unfortunately, there's one way that plaintiff firms can bungle a photo chronology.

The way that plaintiff firms can botch a photo chronology is to provide the wrong dates for the photos.  I've seen the wrong dates on digital photos because the date stamp was wrong.  It can also happen if someone saves a digital photo with a different date than the date it was taken or if the plaintiff's memory is inaccurate

For example, in one case, a plaintiff had extensive complications from a mastopexy (breast lift)  She went to five plastic surgeons after the mastopexy, some for consultations, in which the plastic surgeons took no photos, and some for additional surgery, in which the plastic surgeons took photos.  In addition, the plaintiff took numerous photographs of her breasts over a period of several years.  The photo chronology was inaccurate because the plaintiff was sure that the most horrific photos occurred during the time she was seeing the defendant plastic surgery.  She was wrong, and she led the plaintiff firm astray.

It's easy to determine the dates of digital photos; it's something every legal nurse consultant in plaintiff and defense firms should do when reviewing important digital plaintiff photographs.  Firms should request that the plaintiff supply the photos on a disk or USB flash drive in an original format, such as JPEG or PNG.  PDF files are not acceptable.  Photos taken by digital cameras and smart phones containEXIF (exchangeable image file format) metadata that reveals details about the photos.

To find the EXIF information on a PC, right click on the photo's file name and select Properties.  This window tells you when the photo was saved in a file.  This date may or may not be the same as the date the photo was taken.  To obtain that information, click on the Details tab.  On a Mac, right click on the photo and select Get Info.  If you find photos of the plaintiff online, you can drag the photo to an online EXIF metadata reader such as FindExif.  However, some websites delete photo metadata to protect privacy.

Back to the mastopexy case. The plaintiff testified that she took photos of herself several months after her surgery but before she saw any of the other plastic surgeons.  She attributed all of her problems to the first surgeon.  However, her memory didn't jibe with the photos, which showed healing scars, from this surgeon.  As it turned out, the EXIF data showed that her memory was wrong.  The photos she attributed to the first surgeon occurred on dates during visits to her third and fourth plastic surgeon.  This information cast doubt on her testimony and the entire photo chronology.

As you can see, locating information about photos is easy.  With EXIF information, there's no reason for a plaintiff firm to ever bungle a photo chronology.

...Katy Jones