The Oregonian reported today that the new TriMet buses are equipped with on-board microphones. According to TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch, audio recording came standard on all 55 of the new 3000 series buses. The audio recording system will complement the six video cameras on the new buses. While older TriMet buses had the ability to record audio at the discretion of the driver, the new buses are wired with microphones that are always recording.
While some are concerned about the privacy implications of the new audio recording systems, personal injury attorneys are grateful there is more evidence to help them prove (or disprove) their case. The audio recordings are taped over within 48 to 72 hours, just like the video. However, in the event of a collision or a crime committed on a bus, a prompt request to preserve the evidence from an injury attorney will force TriMet to pull the data pack and provide it to the lawyer and his or her client. This evidence can potentially make or break a case. Whether it hurts or helps, it is evidence an attorney who is considering representing an injured party or a prosecutor who is considering launching a criminal case will be glad they have prior to hearing it from a witness later at trial.
Unfortunately, our civil and criminal justice systems are less than ideal. While they are both designed to get at the truth, they both rely on the presentation of evidence that sometimes does not give the full story. As I always tell my clients, lawsuits are not about what really happened; they are about what we can prove happened. Unfortunately, the reality of that statement means that nine times out of ten victims and injured parties are the ones who suffer when there is a lack of evidence. Having more evidence is a good thing for personal injury attorneys and for prosecutors. They allow us to reject the bad cases and help us prove the good ones. The TriMet audio recordings may never end up helping me on a civil lawsuit, but I will be glad to know that I will not be surprised with a witness’s testimony at trial or in a deposition.
If you are injured while riding a TriMet bus, or if you are injured in an automobile accident with a TriMet bus, be sure to contact a TriMet attorney or file a claim with TriMet right away (at least within 48 hours). It is essential that TriMet pull the data pack that contains key evidence to prove your case. Failing to properly preserve this and other evidence can mean the difference between being able to prove your case or not.