Personal Injury

Demonstrative evidence most effective on millennial jurors

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

The millennial mantra “pics or it didn’t happen” applies to civil jury trials almost as much as is does to social media interactions, Toronto personal injury lawyer Gary Will tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Will, managing partner with Will Davidson LLP, says demonstrative evidence can help jurors of all ages understand the impact of an accident on an injury victim’s life.

But it’s the youngest generation of adults who are most in need of photo and video evidence when deciding a case, he adds.

“It’s something millennial jurors are almost insisting on,” Will says. “It’s no longer sufficient to describe how an accident has changed a person’s life. They want to see demonstrated proof.”

When it comes to complex and technical information presented by medical doctors or other types of experts, he says skillfully produced illustrations, computer animations and physical models can help break down impenetrable material into more comprehensible chunks for lay jurors.

However, Will says visual aids don’t have to be expensive to be effective. In fact, it’s from a decidedly low-tech and old-fashioned source that he typically gets the biggest reaction from jurors — the family photo album of the plaintiff. For that reason, he makes a trip to his client’s home one of his main priorities when preparing for trial.

“We’ll pull out the photo album and pick out some photos that will best assist in telling their story,” he says. “It’s one thing to tell the jury that your client was a handyman around the home, but it’s quite another to show some before and after pictures of some pre-accident projects. If they had an active lifestyle, then it’s very helpful to have pictures or videos of them skiing, biking or fishing.

“A picture really is worth 1,000 words, and it can bring the injury home to the jury,” Will adds.

In addition, he says photos can help convey the emotional toll a serious accident can take on an individual.

“I’ve had clients who look like they’ve aged 20 years over a four-year period since their accident, so a simple 'before' picture in happier times can show in a subtle way what kind of impact the accident has had,” Will says.

In the end, he says lawyers who fail to incorporate some kind of demonstrative evidence into their presentations to a jury risk undermining their case, regardless of the quality of their verbal arguments.

“If you’re not using it, you’re not utilizing the full impact of advocacy. And frankly, you’re doing a disservice to your client,” Will says.

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