The most important job of every personal injury lawyer is to maximize the amount of his or her client’s monetary recovery. The damage elements of every personal injury case are “pain & suffering” and economic damages (which includes lost wages, loss of earning capacity, out-of-pocket expenses, and past and future medical expenses). The nature and extent of the injuries bear on every element of damages. Accordingly, effectively demonstrating the nature and extent of the injuries is a critical component in every personal injury case. Various methods are available.
Although medical illustrations, both generic and case-specific, are the traditional way of demonstrating injuries, they continue to serve a convincing role in presenting evidence in today’s high tech world. Generic illustrations are less costly and can be used in other cases, but may have less impact than case-specific demonstrations. For spine injuries, showing a summary of pain management injections is effective. The exhibit will visually show every date injections were administered, along with the location, size, and shape of each needle and syringe entering the spine. To have this chart made, the medical illustrator must be provided with the medical records containing the injections information or a summary detailing the information.
Another effective tool is digitally formated then “colorized” pre- and post-accident MRIs and pre- and post-accident x-rays. Color illustrating MRIs can clearly demonstrate the shapes of normal compared to damaged intervertebral discs (herniations), where x-rays can be enhanced to clearly distinguish between bone, plates, rods, and screws. When presenting evidence in this manner, it is important to provide easy to understand labels and orientation illustrations, so the average person comprehends what is being viewed. The illustrator should be provided with the images and the radiology reports; the lawyer should make copies of these materials before turning them over to the illustrator.
3D animination has become a popular and effective way of demonstrating injuries. With the emergence of new technologies, it is also becoming less expensive. 3D is the only method that allows three dimensionality and the ability to zoom in and out.
The sky is the limit as to what can be done with modern technology to present a clear picture to adjusters and jurors as to the nature and extent of a person’s injuries. Of course, the Rules of Evidence must be considered in the preparation and presentation of this evidence.
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.