Legal animations are often thought to be exclusively used by personal injury lawyers and litigation attorneys, but they can be a valuable asset in a wide range of legal cases, including product liability, medical malpractice, patent litigation, technology, and environmental law.
Even in cases where liability is well-established and there is high potential for resolution through mediation, legal animations can enhance the presentation of complex information leading to a quicker resolution and higher settlement amount for your client.
Coupled with expert testimony, legal animations can be difficult to refute and can help build confidence in the case’s arguments in favor of your client.
If legal animations find their way to court, their admissibility ultimately depends on the judge’s discretion, but following these guidelines can increase the chances of admission:
- Relevant (Rule 402) – Animations should always conform to the legal team’s clear objectives that better communicate documentary evidence.
- Free from Prejudice (Rule 403) – Animations should not only consider the client’s testimony, but the opposing client’s testimony and any third-party demonstrative evidence. High-quality animations should ensure that “its probative value must substantially outweigh the danger of unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, or misleading the jury.” Harris v. State, 13 P.3d 489, 494 (Okla. Crim. App. 2000)
- Fair and Accurate – Animations should deeply align with witness testimony. To minimize revisions, always start with all demonstrative evidence before integrating all witness depositions to ensure “the recreation is substantially similar to the actual event in all its essential particulars.” Brown v. Corbin, 244 Va. 528, (Va. 1992)
- Timely – Engagements should begin early so that the opposing side has at least two weeks to evaluate and suggest any required changes. The goal is to have the opposing side’s expert witness verify the animation during their deposition to minimize the possibility that the animation is inadmissible in court. “Pretrial disclosure gives the opposing party an adequate opportunity to raise objections by motion in limine and to prepare for cross-examination and rebuttal.” Bray v. Bi-State Development Corp., 949 S.W.2d 93, 98 (Mo. Ct. App. 1997)
When in court, according to an article published by the American Bar Association, counsel should consider requesting that cautionary or limiting instructions be given to the jury. Instructions should include:
- An admonition that the jury is not to give the animation or simulation more weight just because it comes from a computer.
- A statement clarifying that the exhibit is based on the supporting witness evaluation of the evidence.
- A statement that the evidence is not meant to be an exact recreation of the event, but is, instead, a representation of the witness testimony.
Since legal animations present information with visual aids, this information is at least 6.5 times more likely to be retained after 72 hours than information that is delivered verbally. In addition, an effective legal animation will trigger intended emotional responses.
It is important to note that not all courts allow legal animations to be viewed by the jury during deliberations due to how impactful legal animations can be. Therefore, it’s necessary to use them during opening and closing arguments as well as in witness testimonies.
Depositions, police reports, photographs, and videos are typically great starting points to begin the creation of a legal animation. Additionally, the following data can be used to produce an accurate and objective animation:
- Maps and satellite images
- Measurements from the scene
- Line of sight studies
- Time distances diagrams
- Blueprints / schematics
- 3D laser scans
Reach out to Legal Animation Consulting and begin increasing your client’s settlement amounts and resolving mediations quickly.
— Joaquin Casares | Owner | Legal Animation Consulting