Evidence refers to proof that is legally admissible at trial which is intended to convince the judge and/or jury of alleged facts material to the case. Evidence in a medical malpractice trial will generally take two forms. There is trial testimony which is the sworn answers of witnesses to questions at a trial. These witnesses will include the plaintiff and defendant litigants and medical experts. The second most common form of evidence generally utilized in a medical malpractice trial is documentary evidence. This type of evidence may include a medical/hospital chart, an income tax return, or other documents created in the normal course of business. Additionally, one of the most effective variations of evidence is demonstrative evidence.
At a trial, our attorneys convey our client’s experience to a jury in the most compelling and convincing manner. Not only must we humanize our client’s story, we must be able to explain very complicated and technical medical terminology and procedures. We must, through the use of evidence, show the jury why our version of the issues in the case is more credible and reasonable then that of the version offered by our adversaries. One of the key components to proving that our client’s injuries and damages were the result of medical malpractice is through the use of demonstrative evidence. By using demonstrative evidence, our medical malpractice lawyerscan utilize visual aids rather than just relying on the spoken word or of the content of a document. An old proverb states that “a picture tells a thousand words”. It is based on this very sentiment that motivates us to expend the necessary funds to, not just tell but to also show, a jury why our position is the correct one. Demonstrative evidence, at its core, is a simplification and clarification of issues and facts. Generally, jurors also find demonstrative evidence more interesting and engaging; it’s known to improve recollection and retention of other evidence. During a medical malpractice trial, witness testimony can be dull and boring. In some cases, jurors will lose attention or misinterpret the meaning of certain expert witness’ testimony. Invariably, when a visual aid is utilized, the jurors will remain engaged.
Some examples of demonstrative evidence that we often use in our medical malpractice cases include:
Photographs: Using photographs effectively at trial can leave a powerful imprint on a juror’s mind. A photograph can show the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and the impact that the injuries have on their life.
X-Rays/CT Scans/MRIs: These diagnostic scans serve many purposes at trial. As with photographs, a scan can show the extent of a patient’s injury. They can also be used to pinpoint a doctor’s negligence. For example, if a physician misreads a mammogram and subsequently fails to detect a lesion suggestive of breast cancer, we will enlarge the film to show the jury exactly what the doctor failed to observe. We also will utilize 3 dimensional recreations of scans which make it very easy for the jury to understand the anatomy involved.
Models and Anatomical Exhibits: Models and anatomical exhibits are often an essential part of a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. Models help a jury to understand the anatomical relationship of various bodily structures which further help jurors to follow the expert’s opinions. On nearly every medical malpractice case, we utilize medical artists to fully and clearly recreate, in color imagery, the medical issues involved in the case. These exhibits will initially have a great impact on the insurance companies during settlement negotiations and should a settlement not be reached, will serve further educate the jurors.
Computer Animations: A computer animation, similar to a model or anatomical exhibit, will aid the jury in understanding exactly what a certain medical procedure entails. Animations can be an effective form of evidence as they are engaging and also leave little doubt as to how the plaintiff suffered their injury.
As previously mentioned, advanced demonstrative evidence is extremely costly. An artist’s rendition of an anatomical structure can cost up to $2,500. Very often we will utilize several drawings to support our case. Computer animations can cost in excess of $20,000. As such, it is imperative that when a perspective plaintiff chooses his or her attorney that they inquire as to whether that law firm has the financial resources to best prove their case. The insurance companies we battle generally have unlimited resources and do not shy away from spending the money they feel necessary to defeat our claims. As such, injured patients should do their due diligence when deciding on which law firm to retain.