Know your audience.
This is a key message of Aristotle’s legal philosophy that is still relevant today, especially for civil attorneys. Why? Because in litigation, your audience consists of overloaded judges and distracted jurors. One way to cut through the legal noise and keep their attention is through visuals.
Due to the picture superiority effect, visuals are more likely to be remembered in court, rather than a stack of files and a lengthy verbal explanation. That’s one reason why demonstratives, such as forensic animations, have become more common in litigation.
Nonetheless, visual demonstratives aren’t always used in trials, and when they are, it’s often something simple, like a PowerPoint.
Without firsthand experience using more sophisticated and costly demonstratives, many attorneys may wonder, “How effective are demonstratives in court?” Here is an outside perspective on their effectiveness: Research indicates that visual aids used in tandem with oral presentations can increase your audience’s understanding and retention levels up to 65 percent.
Whether you are a defense or plaintiff attorney, demonstratives in court are overwhelmingly effective. Some legal animations or trial graphics in a presentation can bring 2000% ROI. Let’s bring concrete examples to this concept, with a look at specific examples for both civil plaintiff and defense attorneys.
Effectiveness of Demonstratives in Court for Plaintiff Attorneys
In the cases that plaintiff attorneys commonly work in, such as personal injury, medical malpractice, or accidents, a visual can be the difference between a few thousand dollars in settlement to millions.
In these types of cases, a demonstrative like a forensic animation can truly make or break a case. Below, we describe exactly how demonstratives in court can depict damages and spur the jury to feel empathetic towards your client.
Depict Damages Owed or Liability using Demonstrative Exhibits
In a real case, a hydraulic press company’s press malfunctioned, and their insurance company refused to cover the repairs, and the major revenue and product loss. The plaintiff counsel, representing the press company, used demonstrative evidence at trial to support their argument that the insurance company.
After presenting the demonstrative exhibits on where the press failed, the jury delivered a final verdict of $44,000,000.
In this modern age of media-savvy jurors, having a visual can do more than just represent damages. It can also create an emotional connection from the jury to your client. For example, after one plaintiff attorney presented a medical animation to the jury about the severe pain his client suffered due to an insurance company acting on a bad faith claim, they awarded $5,800,000 million.
Demonstratives in Court Bring Empathy for Your Client
To have a greater chance of a maximum-amount verdict from the jury, a plaintiff attorney can leverage demonstratives in court.
A demonstrative exhibit that features a compelling image in your opening or closing statement can subconsciously impress an emotional connection to your client on the jury. This invokes empathy and the jury (or judge) can better relate to your client’s situation, especially in a medical malpractice or car crash lawsuit.
In another case that went to trial, the plaintiff was rear-ended and had severe back and left leg pain. His doctors requested a surgery to correct the pain, but the insurance company refused to cover the fees. After one year of excruciating pain, the plaintiff finally received approval, and afterwards, his pain diminished greatly.
To visualize the plaintiff’s unnecessary internal pain to the jury, his counsel requested a medical animation from a forensic animation company. After the jury saw the court exhibits, they awarded the plaintiff $5,800,0000.
Want to learn more about the return on investment a single demonstrative exhibit or animation can give you? Learn more in this article!
Demonstrative exhibits are an invaluable tool for plaintiff attorneys who want to get the upper hand on the opposing counsel, but they can also serve success for defense attorneys.
Effectiveness of Demonstratives in Court for Defense Attorneys
There’s a common misperception that demonstratives are primarily a plaintiff attorney’s tool. However, these visual litigation aids are just as persuasive for defense parties in mediation and in trial.
Demonstrative exhibits, such as legal animations, timelines, or still photos, can assist with:
- Stamping out insurance fraud and false claims made by plaintiffs demanding millions of dollars.
- Negotiate favorable settlement terms, or even getting a 100% favorable defense settlement.
- Protect defendants from excessive financial loss, especially if they were not entirely at fault.
In addition to mediation, trial exhibits are an important visual aid for a defense counsel. For defense attorneys working on behalf of insurance companies, corporations, municipalities, and other organizations, demonstratives in court are effective at mitigating damages and reducing the financial liability of your clients.
Prove the Plaintiff’s Negligence or Contributory Negligence
One way to strengthen your case and disprove your client’s accuser’s claim of negligence is to help the jury see that the plaintiff acted unreasonably and could have contributed to their own injuries or damages.
In today’s world, the best way to help the jury ‘see’ your side of the story is through a literal visual, like a trial exhibit. When an attorney combines seeing and hearing in their opening or closing arguments, their audience retains up to 700% more information.
One defense counsel that leveraged trial demonstratives to visualize how the defendant, a police officer, was not liable for hitting a civilian vehicle at night.
The plaintiffs sued the City of Fontana for the officer’s negligent actions, which they stated caused the unfortunate fatalities and injuries. However, all protocol had been followed, such as how he turned on the vehicle’s lights to allow for maximum visibility.
The accident reconstruction also visualized how the civilian’s vehicle’s windows were tinted, which is illegal in their state, and how the driver drove into the intersection despite the highly visible flashing lights.
While the plaintiff counsel had demanded $20 million, the jury delivered a 100% defense verdict.
Minimize Risk and Limit Damage
When the plaintiff is striving to evoke empathy and sympathy from the jury, it’s critical to counter with evidence that cuts through the emotions. Demonstrative evidence is one of the most powerful ways to do this.
By cutting through the noise and showing clearly your facts in a memorable way, demonstrative exhibits can truly be the key to limiting damages.
In trial, it’s almost impossible to show the court exactly what happened at the incident. To accurately determine liability and who owes damages, a realistic visual is a vital tool for defense attorneys.
They allow the defense to present facts in a cohesive manner while staying distant from any emotional reactions. The visual narrative must be undramatic to help prove that the plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risk that relates to your case.
In one case that involved an aviation crash, the defense counsel faced the challenge of having a clear explanation of what occurred based on provided surveillance footage. For liability to be accurately evaluated, the defense counsel reached out to our team to create an aviation animation. This visual effectively helped the defense cut through the emotions following a tragic accident.
Evolve Your Litigation Strategies with Demonstratives in Court
When a civil case goes to trial, visuals are a crucial aspect of an attorney’s strategy. Demonstratives in court are highly effective for civil cases in mediation or at trial – whether you’re a defense or plaintiff attorney.
The only question left is, how will you use these effective visuals to receive a favorable verdict for your case?
Interested in learning more about how demonstratives in court can have a high ROI for your case? There’s a reason why our forensic animation team holds a 99% admittance rate for visuals, has served more than 2,000 cases, and helped land our clients over $1,000,000,000 in results.
Discover what our litigation animations can do for your case – get a free consultation today!