Friday, April 27, 2012

Are You Missing Your Best Chance to Settle Your Cases?

Most trial attorneys know that demonstrative evidence can make them more successful in trial. It’s a simple case of “seeing is believing.” But did you know that these same types of exhibits can be just as effective in settlement negotiations as they are at trial? When entering into negotiations during a settlement conference, it is essential to be as compelling, dramatic and persuasive as possible, right out of the gate. Settlement exhibits are the answer. Effective visual aids can help you present an argument that demands attention. A professionally prepared settlement exhibit will:
  1. Authenticate. The presentation of demonstrative evidence in demand letters and settlement conferences shows that you are serious and credible. They make it clear that you have done your homework, know your material and are prepared to go to trial if necessary.

  2. Educate. Your opponent must understand your argument before he can accept or counter it. Visual aids are the best way to communicate complex medical science or technical issues that lie at the heart of a personal injury or medical malpractice case.

  3. Intimidate. Regardless of the words you use, no description can be as dramatic as the visual representation of an injury. Let your opponent see the types of demonstrative evidence you have available and she will immediately imagine its effect in trial.
"I use medical illustrations to both simplify a complex injury for purposes of education and add dramatic effect to underscore the serious nature of a catastrophic accident. That was the result recently where, in a severe brain injury case, I was able to successfully illustrate all thirty-one lesions involved. When the defendant municipality saw how easy it was for our experts to
connect the dots between the lesions illustrated and a host of plaintiff deficits, the case settled for the largest amount in the history of the San Francisco Municipal Railway."
Jerry Hurtubise
Winslow and Hurtubise
San Francisco, CA
Finally, there is always the issue of cost. Perhaps the best feature of pre-trial presentations is that you don’t have to pay a premium to insure that your demonstrative evidence is case-specific. Without the strict rules of evidence in force during trial, you are at liberty to find examples that may be a close, but not necessarily perfect, representation of your issues. This allows you to take advantage of previously created illustrations available through The Doe Report ( The Doe Report website is an archive of over 60,000 illustrations and exhibits that were created specifically for use in litigation. A keyword search feature allows you to browse the content and locate items that can represent an almost endless array of anatomy, pathology, injury and surgery. Best of all, these stock exhibits are available for as little as $119, just a fraction of the cost of traditional custom illustrations. The vast majority of attorneys I work with prefer to settle their cases early rather than risk the expenses and vagaries of trial. Your settlement conference is your best chance to achieve a positive outcome that is best for you and your client. With so much riding on your presentation, why not use all the ammunition available to you?