By: Tyler Komarnycky
Visual Litigation Strategist at High Impact
We’ve long been told that people generally learn best in a visual format. According to one study, 65 percent of the population would be classified primarily as visual learners. It has been further identified that most people are bimodal, trimodal, or quadrimodal with regards to processing of information. This means that a visual presentation of materials, in combination with auditory and/or other methods is most effective in conveying information. Advertisers recognize this fact and have historically been willing to pay materially more to get in front of users through visually led formats (television, newspaper, and magazine) than they have for radio, even for a comparable amount of user impressions.
So how does this translate into the legal setting? It is widely understood that visual exhibits make a difference when presenting cases. Visual displays allow for the conveyance of information in a much more powerful and lasting way than through a typical spoken lecture. They bridge our varied cultural backgrounds, offering a universal way to appeal to disparate audiences. Go to any modern-day CLE and chances are there is at least one speaker on the roster talking about visuals and their virtues.
I’m well into my seventh year at what many consider to be the top provider of graphics and animations in the legal industry. Having been a direct part of the successful integration of visuals into litigation strategies thousands of times over, I can confidently suggest that marrying visuals into cases is a match made in heaven. Nary a day goes by when we don’t hear of a case that closed successfully, vastly exceeding the expectations of our client partner. Nevertheless, I routinely hear reasons not to use graphics in the various stages of litigation.
Let me start first by asking, given that we understand how people learn and retain information, is it farfetched to opine that using visuals adds value to any case, regardless of the value or specifics of the case?
I think it’s stating the obvious that the more you resonate with any audience—the higher the chances the audience will see things your way—the more likely it is that you’re on the same page. And we all know that is a common goal of any persuasion-oriented communication. What better way to reach that place in your communication by using a tried and tested method for success?.
Going back to my earlier point about the various reasons why people choose to not employ visuals in their cases, below are some of the common obstructions I regularly encounter:
- I haven’t even filed suit yet/I am in the demand letter stage, and I don’t need graphics at this stage
- I’m going to try and settle the case in mediation and decide on graphics depending on how that goes
- Liability is clear—we don’t need any graphics/animations on liability, let’s just stick with damages
- My expert can just explain that detail
- I can’t afford that/the value of the case just isn’t there
Given that your cases and arguments become stronger and more effective when you use visuals, why not include graphics when filing suit and/or sending a demand? You may not want to pursue as expansive an option as you might in a trial or mediation, but including even the simplest and most generic of graphics demonstrates to the opposing party that you are prepared for your dispute.
I have personally seen a significant increase in the amount and caliber of graphics/animations being employed in mediations recently. Using graphics and animations in mediation, in my opinion, offers many direct benefits.
First, it sends the message that you believe in your case and have invested time, money, and efforts proving it. Your ability to obtain the outcome you and your client are seeking increases in a mediation setting when you convey a well-organized presentation that includes graphics and animations. You may even reach a settlement higher than you first anticipated. Second, if you don’t settle the case in mediation, you send the message that you’re prepared for trial. Chances are, you can use most, if not all, of the graphics and animations you’ve prepared for mediation in the trial, and potentially supplement them further.
These reasons don’t always stem from the expense that employing visuals implies. But, candidly, it’s often a factor in the ultimate decision to use graphics or not, even if it’s not at the top of the list. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s obviously necessary to consider your case expenses at each step. When this comes into play, I try to point out that by allowing your communication to be more effectively received through the use of visuals, this notion hopefully should become a little less of a burden. It should not be the deciding factor based on how effective we know they can make your arguments.
One solution here is to make use of stock/library exhibits.
High Impact is working with Trial Guides to provide you with a handful of what we believe are very common requests for visuals at a very competitive price. These visuals cover what have historically been very common cases and injuries: pain management injections, spine/fusion surgeries, whiplash and coup-countercoup injuries, among others.
We believe these exhibits are generic enough to be used in a large percentage of cases involving similar injuries. Depending on your case, they may even suffice for a trial. They will certainly suffice, in our opinion, for use pretrial. So, for a modest cost, and knowing how much more effectively your ask will be received the more you’re resonating with your audience, why not include these visuals in a demand letter, mediation, or in briefs?
An average insurance adjuster at State Farm has over 250+ files on their desk, at any given time. If only some (maybe even just one) of those files had a few graphics in it, don’t you think that adjuster might at least remember your file, at least differentiate it in his mind, if even just a little bit more than all the others that all look the same?
Isn’t that what you want—for adjusters and counterparties to treat your case differently, for them to give it the consideration and thought it really deserves?
Help them do that by showing them that you’re familiar with the case and the injuries and are prepared to litigate the case as needed by visually communicating with them in each and every opportunity you have to do so. Show them that you’re ready and that you believe in your case.