Why Should Attorneys Utilize Demonstrative Evidence?


A case is nothing without solid and moving evidentiary support - especially when proving negligence or liability in personal injury lawsuits. Solid, meaning factual, and moving meaning memorable to a jury. True success for attorneys and their clients comes not just from having the strongest evidentiary support, but rather, presenting strong evidence in the most effective manner.

The American Bar published a report stating, "juries remember 85 percent of what they see, but only 15 percent of what they hear."<sup>1</sup> The average juror is lost after too much legal jargon and easily zones out at various times throughout the long day. In today’s technology-savvy world, effective litigators can not rely on bland testimonies, real evidence or even overly simplistic demonstrative evidence.

Today’s leading lawyers are experts in utilizing demonstrative evidence; plaintiffs should ask potential attorneys about how they plan to incorporate such evidence to advance their own case.

What is Demonstrative Evidence

Testimonial evidence is either an oral conversation with a witness or expert or their statement read into evidence. Real evidence is evidence directly involved in the accident, like a defective seat belt or a murder weapon.

Demonstrative evidence, however, is evidence represented through objects such as photographs, graphs, videos, models, simulations, etc, not taken from the crime scene. To be admissible in court, the objects must help explain or demonstrate the attorney’s point. It is sometimes called representative evidence.

It may be accident reconstruction models allowing jurors to visualize the scene or a day-in-the-life video to demonstrate how the victim’s life is forever altered from their sustained injuries. In simple cases, some attorneys may opt for powerpoints and models of body parts while more aggressive lawsuits may explore computer animation, interactive videos or even augmented and virtual reality.

Why Should My Attorney Use Demonstrative Evidence

In general - based on multiple scientific studies - 65 percent of people are visual learners, meaning they learn best by seeing. Only 20 and 15 percent of people are auditory and kinesthetic learners, respectively. Therefore, the average 12-person jury, presumably representative of the general public, should have about 7 visual jury members.

People tend to communicate in the same manner they learn. Visual learners will most likely create a powerpoint for a class presentation while auditory learners will spend more time crafting the perfect speech. In theory, a visual attorney with create a visual courtroom strategy riddled with demonstrative evidence and the majority of jury members will remember and absorb his arguments. However, finding attorneys who are visual learners may be harder than the general population percentage would suggest.

A study by The Animiated Attorney<sup>2</sup> analyzed over 2,000 people to determine their style of learning- 387 were also practicing lawyers, 19 percent of the participants. While the general public’s results were similar to the numbers above (61 percent visual learning), only 47 percent of attorneys were also visual learners. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean clients should only hire visual learners; in fact, non-visual learners probably excelled more so than visual learners back in law school given the excessive reading and long lecture class structures. However, clients should ask their personal injury attorney about how they’d present their case to a jury (after explaining your unique circumstances).  If they’ve yet to progress from only utilizing expert testimony and paper handouts, clients should continue with their personal injury attorney search.

Footnotes

1. Gohen, Lori G., The Art of Closing Argument:  Effective Use of Visual Aids at Trial (2015) (quoting I. Neel Chatterjee,  Admitting Computer Animations: More Caution and New Approach Are Needed , 62 Def. Couns. J. 36, 43  (1995); Sonya Hamlin,  Who Are Today’s Jurors and How Do You Reach Them , Litig,  Spring 2001, at 9, 16.)

2. Tisher, April T., The Effective Use of Demonstrative Evidence, A2L Consulting (2003).

Copyright © 2017 Scott Liljegren, All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. If you use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article, except as otherwise authorized in writing by the author of the article you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article.

This article was last reviewed or amended on Sep 13, 2017.