When you’re preparing a case for trial, a great deal of time goes into developing the major themes of your case. Sometimes the case is stunningly complicated, such as in a business dispute that takes place over years with many interlocking claims at issues. Sometimes it’s as simple as a car accident where liability is admitted and it’s all about causation of damages.
I worked on two cases recently that typify the easier end of the extremes. Both were defense cases where the entire defense came down to a pretty simply medical issue. Both needed clear visuals to make the key points of the case. In these cases, Cogent Legal developed timelines with images to show a chronology and visually communicate the facts in an easy-to-grasp way.
The first was a car accident case of admitted liability but a big dispute on causation.The basic claim in this case was that the defendant driver was negligent and likely caused an immediate onset of neck pain that resolved after a few days. However, the back pain that continued to this day did not start for a year after the incident.
The attorney could simply state that above as a fact in trial, and leave it at that. However, it’s much more powerful and persuasive to take that basic fact and visually show the lack relationship between the incident and the subsequent back pain.
Cogent Legal put together the following timeline to visually communicate the key point of the case. (Names and identifying details have been changed in the sample below for the purpose of sharing the graphic in this article.) We grouped all the neck complaints up on the top with the notation of the incident, and placed all the other, unrelated complaints on the bottom to emphasize the point that they are not related. We added easy-to-understand icons for each body complaint so the viewer could generally comprehend it without reading the details in the entries. The entries provide the attorney with a way to reference each complaint with their expert on the stand.
The second case involved a disputed liability claim arising from a customer being injured in a big-box store. While liability was clearly disputed, a great deal of the defense came down to many prior falls the elderly plaintiff had before the subject incident, since he was clearly prone to falling regardless of anything the store did or did not do.
Making a visual icon for each and every documented past fall, and those falls that occurred afterward, provided an overall context for the expert witness doctor to discuss these issues while on the stand.
If you use a chart like either of these samples above, then I also suggest having a nice, clean documentary exhibit that has each and every medical record that supports the chart in chronological fashion. This is an easy way to assure your expert that the exhibit is accurate and later to establish its accuracy with the court as needed at trial.
By showing and telling the jury your key points, jurors have a much higher likelihood of understanding your case and being persuaded by your theme. Emphasizing all key issues with a clear graphic can greatly enhance the likelihood of jury comprehension on that issue.
Contact me if you’d like to discuss how Cogent Legal can create timelines and other visuals to show as well as tell the story of your case.
If you’d like to receive updates from this blog, please click to subscribe by email.