Use of Computer Generated Graphics During a Jury Trial

Posted By Michael R. Varble || 21-Apr-2014

In today's blog post, I discuss the use of computer generated graphics in the course few a jury trial. How do we as attorneys use this form of technology before a jury and how can it be used to help you with your case ? Well, there are many ways that it can be used to help you if you are a plaintiff in a personal injury action. If you are curious about how attorneys use this form of evidence to assist you as a plaintiff in a trial before a jury, contact us so we can discuss it further with you.

A computer generated animation of an accident can be very powerful evidence. Normally, this type of evidence has to be used in connection with an expert witness' testimony and the most frequently seen type of expert you will see with this type of evidence is an accident reconstructionist about how an accident occurred. The accident reconstructionist will perform an analysis of the scene of the accident, a review of the photographs of the scene with any physical evidence from close to the time of the accident, a review of the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident, and with newer vehicles there may even be a black box involved the records data from the vehicle in which it is located. The reconstructionist reviews all of this information, performs and analysis, develops an opinion and then works with a computer technician to develop an animated version of how the accident occurred. Once the expert testifies at trial, and testifies that the animation is a fair and accurate interpretation of the expert's opinion and that it is being used to help the jury understand how the accident occurred, the animation will be presented to a jury. If the reconstructionist's opinion makes sense, stands up to cross-examination and the animation is easy to follow, you are going to be well on your way to obtaining a verdict in your favor.

So how do we attorneys get this information into evidence and present it to a jury ? Well, part of the process is listed in the last paragraph. The other part that has not already been discussed is that Court's generally look at computer animation as a drawing or a diagram. The requirement for admissibility consist of showing that the presentation is relevant, that the animation fairly and accurately reflects the oral testimony offered by the expert witness and that it would be an aid to the jury in understanding what occurred. The Court have to be careful that a jury may confuse art with reality. The problem is even more complex if the computer generated animation does more than merely illustrate a theory that an expert developed. If the animation contributes to the expert's opinion by means of a program that accepts data and performs an analysis and predicts a result, then the program may be producing an independent form of scientific evidence that has to have its own foundation and must also be found to produce its own form of scientifically reliable processes.

So what does this mean for you if you are someone involved in an accident and you are wondering if computer generated evidence can be used in your case ? Well, it can be but it is costly. In practical terms, this means that your case would have to justify an expenditure of this nature. Your case would have to be financially viable, meaning that your injuries would need to be pretty severe and the potential to recover from the defendant would need to be present as well. i.e. there would need to be a substantial amount of insurance and/or assets involved. Normally, we are only dealing with insurance so for there to be a substantial amount of insurance, we would usually have to be talking about the defendant being a commercial defendant.

If you have any questions about this issue or a case in general, please feel free to give us a call and I or any of our attorneys will be happy to discuss these issues with you further.

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