To prevail at a personal injury trial, having evidence is simply not enough. In fact, even if you have the very best evidence, it does not guarantee the jury will understand it nor consider it when assessing whether to grant an award of compensatory damages. This is why my colleagues and I utilize advanced techniques to take relatively remote or mundane pieces of evidence and translate them into a form and fashion that communicates with members of the jury.

Educating Jurors

Many of our courtroom methods mirror the best practices of award-winning classroom teachers. Like them, our team of attorneys take the necessary steps to accommodate the three styles of learning: (i) auditory, (ii) visual and (iii) kinesthetic. This means we tell, show, and allow jurors to touch and physically examine key pieces of evidence to fully demonstrate the extent of your harms and losses. Let’s discuss each type of learner:

  • Auditory learners listen closely to what attorneys and witnesses say. They soak in oral arguments, mentally compare statements and put less stock in visual displays—which lawyers call “demonstrative evidence.”
  • Visual learners far outnumber auditory learners, so lawyers fail their clients if they do not bring several types of demonstrative evidence into the courtroom.
  • Kinesthetic (i.e., hands-on learners) make up the smallest group of jurors and students. That said, almost anyone can gain important insights from actually handling, say, a medical model of a brain while hearing about a plaintiff’s brain injuries and seeing printouts from functional MRIs.

This is the essential insight my firm colleagues and I arrived at years ago – practically no one is a pure auditory learner, visual learner or kinesthetic learner. The majority of people, including those sitting on juries, are a combination of all three. Therefore, combining oral testimony with demonstrative evidence and tactile learning aids allows us to interest and convince the maximum number of jurors. When we must read a passage from a deposition transcript or police report, we also project the quoted text on a screen. We may then play a recording of the testimony or have the witness repeat their statement while on the witness stand.When we put up a poster of a medical illustration or play a video, we provide running commentary to direct jurors’ attention. And when we make an important point, we make it at least three times orally and visually.

Never Overwhelm Jurors

Another important strategy for presenting evidence is adhering to the “rule of three.” Basically, this means limiting the key pieces of evidence to three as a way to make the information digestible and not overwhelming. Another popular term for this evidentiary limitation is the “mailbox theory.” Basically, the mailbox theory stands for the proposition that any person processing new evidence will only process the amount of evidence that can fit into their mailbox (i.e., their brain). Once an individual’s mental mailbox reaches capacity, any excess material will not fit and likely be discarded.

Translating this into action, our team of Virginia and North Carolina personal injury attorneys typically only put three bullet points in a PowerPoint slide used at trial. We also only place three labels on a medical illustration. In addition, we use rhetorical questions to guide jurors into filling in the blanks, thereby involving them directly in their own learning.

Have Questions? Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

If you were injured in an accident and want to hold the negligent party accountable through a personal injury claim, contact the attorneys with Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We stand ready to help. Contact our office at 833-997-1774 to schedule a free consultation.