SAMPLE 2: Personal injury and insurance fraud
A prima ballerina, the star of several dance troops in California, injures her knee in a car crash and it ruins her career.
At least that’s what she claims.
Her story is compelling and very sad, and you can’t help but feel sympathy. Imagine the story of the beautiful, graceful dancer, the 5’3” 100 pound Russian trained star ballerina, who is no longer able to share her wondrous art with audiences because she is forever hobbled by a car accident that damaged her knee. While retelling her story, she cries on the stand, in front of a jury, so many times that you lose count.
The problem is, her story was a lie.
Since she was a fairly well known ballerina, there were many videos of her performances, both in archives of ballet dance troops and on the internet.
An insurance company brought the case to the experts at NCAVF and provided to our office a number of her previous performances.
The job tasked to NCAVF was to find as many other stills and video as we could online, watch her performances, and see what we could glean from her spins and turns and her use of her left knee -- the knee she claimed was injured -- both before and after her supposedly career ending car accident. Did she bounce and twist her knee; did she put lots of weight on it?
A few important facts that are relevant to the case but not directly part of our investigation:
- The ballerina was about 31 at the time of the accident, and that most prima ballerinas who have been studying and performing as intensely as she had, since age 5, have basically destroyed their bodies and knees by the late 20’s or early 30’s just through the stress of dance practice and performance.
- Even the plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert claimed the ballerina’s car was traveling at most 2.8 to possibly 4 miles an hour at the moment of impact.
After many hours of finding and gathering still images and video clips, of viewing several videos of ballet performances, blogs from performers in her troop, internet ads for her shows, we discovered a very important detail that ended up being helpful in the case.
It was about two weeks before trial when we noticed something in one of her performances that made the attorney on the case say, “You’ve just made our case.”
This performance, gathered originally though subpoena by the insurance company, was a recording made approximately 5 days before her car accident. And it’s important to note that this ballerina claimed to never have any medical problems or knee problems prior to the accident.
So, what did the video show?
After digitally enhancing and zooming into the ballerina’s left knee, tracking it throughout the performance, we discovered that several times you could see a distinct, protective wrap around her left knee. Only her left knee.
5 days BEFORE accident - bandage clearly seen
6 months AFTER accident - no bandage
In addition to this, the jury heard and saw other key pieces of evidence, and they voted unanimously for the defense.