Chasing the Laser Pointer - Animations in Personal Injury Case - Anatomical Justice

Chasing the Laser Pointer

Chasing the Laser Pointer

Attorney throws papers while trying to catch a laser (representing a courtroom animation) coming from a laser pointer

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Chasing the Laser Pointer

How Useful are Animations in a Personal Injury Case When Compared to Custom Medical Illustrations?

August 25, 2020 | By Ronald Mathias

The Need to Connect

Articulating the extent of damage acquired by your client in a personal injury case can be a challenging task. In 2017, a study was conducted evaluating the public’s knowledge of anatomy. Questions posed to the participants were comprised of twenty common anatomical structures, including the heart, lungs, and biceps. The test concluded that the only¬†structure 100% of the participants could accurately identify was the brain. Therefore, the effectiveness of demonstrative evidence becomes readily apparent when you can visualize, rather than verbalize, your case facts. This will allow viewers with minimal medical knowledge to better comprehend your message.


A Comparison of Courtroom Visuals: Animations vs. Illustrations 

A common misconception amongst legal professionals is that the higher-tech the presentation, the more protracted the attention span, translating into higher returns on investment. A typical sales technique within the industry is getting ‘the cat to chase the laser pointer.’ Pushing unnecessarily expensive products on a customer when more cost-effective (and ostensibly clearer) ways to convey a particular injury are available. Flashy personal injury animations will easily impress the average citizen, leading attorneys to believe that animations would always make the best choice. Unfortunately, some animations have the potential to be more distracting than educational. Consider then, the pros and cons of medical-legal animations when preparing for your next presentation:


Pros:¬†First and foremost, personal injury animations are attention-grabbing. They are useful when communicating movement, which can be integral to surgical procedures or mechanisms of injury. In these instances, motion allows your audience to understand the progression of events. Our animators can apply techniques that enhance key details, slowing essential scenes, and incorporating educational text to aid viewers in absorbing complex information. If correctly executed, this will allow the retention of data without causing cognitive overload. A powerful animation can improve memory recall, and when a judge, mediator, or jury can comprehend the injury’s magnitude, your client has a better chance for a positive outcome.


Cons: High-quality animations, whether in 2D or 3D format, are both time-consuming and expensive to produce. Animators typically charge by the second; thirty seconds can cost upwards of five figures. Because of the need for accuracy, cases with a low return on investment are not economical for a high-priced animation. For example, in automobile accident reconstructions, the input from a biomechanical engineer is necessary to provide the exact position, speed, and nature of the collision. Without backing from such an expert, you run the risk of having your costly personal injury animation inadmissible due to inaccuracies. A study from 2015 found that animations improved recall better than an illustration only when audio was supplemental to the text. Hiring experts like engineers and voice actors will increase both cost and production time.


To reduce costs, many attorneys will request squeezing as much information as possible into a shorter run-time. Which usually results in poorly executed, and therefore, distracting animations. Rushing through a complex series of steps creates confusion in individuals who already have a lower grasp of medical knowledge.


Most importantly, if your subject matter can be understood from a single view, then res ipsa loquitur. Needlessly spinning your injury around in 3D space will distract from your area of focus. Your client’s pathology should contain either a moving component or need to be seen from multiple views to warrant an animation. Movement for movement’s sake is obtrusive.


Choosing What’s Best for Your Case

As the old saying goes: ‘the right tool for the right job’; animations are no exception. When deciding the best medium to utilize as demonstrative evidence, feel free to contact one of our case managers. Anatomical Justice, LLC has over 20 years of experience and can create highly accurate, visually striking demonstrative evidence for any case or budget.


About the Author:

Ronald Mathias, CMI, is the Founder and Managing Member of Anatomical Justice, LLC. He has been immersed in medical media production and visual translation for the past twenty-five years. During that time, he has created thousands of innovative demonstrative aids for personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability cases for plaintiff and defendant attorneys across the US. His work has also included artwork for medical textbooks, journals, medical device advertising, comic books, and storyboarding for film.

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