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The following is a transcript of Episode 14 of Championing Justice. You can listen to the full episode here, or watch it on YouTube.

Darl: Thank you for listening to the Championing Justice podcast. My name is Darl Champion. I am the founder and owner of The Champion Firm. We are a personal injury law firm based in Marietta, Georgia, which for those not familiar with the area is just right outside Atlanta.

Today we have Alex Deaconson from DK Global as our guest, and Alex is going to be talking about the use of visuals, demonstrative exhibits, that you can use in your personal injury practice to maximize the value of your cases. Thanks for joining us, Alex.

Alex: Hey, happy to be here. Thanks. Thanks for the invite.

Darl: Well, we really appreciate you coming on. When we have vendors come on, I always like to have a little disclaimer at the beginning. We’re not being paid by DK Global. We’ve not been promised anything in return for having you on the show.

We have used DK Global before. We’ve used other vendors and the reason that we reached out to Alex and DK Global is they have a national reputation for doing top-notch work and some really, really, really big cases. And they have done some really impressive things for us on some big cases that have gotten us some big results, including more than a $10 million settlement in a case where DK Global did an animation involving an accident reconstruction.

They took all the data and created a really impressive visual depicting the wreck itself from the perspective of the driver and kind of an aerial view. Walked through all the injuries head to toe that our client had depicted them all, went through all the surgeries as well that our client had to undergo. And that was really a massive undertaking and we’ve since used them on some other cases that have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements. So that’s why they’re on and looking forward to chatting some about visuals and litigation.

Alex: We’re thrilled to be a part of it too. And I mean, I know the case you’re referencing and that was the unique one was liability was pretty much there, but we wanted to capture the severity of the crash and then really there was a lot of damages head to toe, and it was a great visual to really tell the story in a compact eight minutes if that to really hammer home liability and damages. So I think that was one of the first ones we worked with you on, so that was great. Great first case to work on with an eight figure result.

Darl: Yeah, absolutely. Well, before we dive in, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at DK Global.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. So this November I will have been at DK Global for 15 years. The company itself, DK has been around 25 years. It was founded by our CEO and founder of Michael Caldwell and his wife Melissa Caldwell, who are the CEO and CFO and our work in the visual space.

We produced demonstrative exhibits for trial for mediation, and the way that I fell into it is I was working on a documentary project on prescription pill abuse back in 2009 before Oxycontin was really known as a national pandemic before all the Purdue Pharma litigation everything, we were making a documentary and it was part of his pro bono work that he did every year. And then they brought me on to do settlement documentaries.

So I started writing and directing settlement documentaries and actually going into the field and filming. And then with that would come some of the visuals that I would direct as well.

And slowly just started to learn a lot of the ins and outs of the company. And now I’m a partner and senior visual consultant there. And so I kind of have my hands in a lot of different things when it comes to just overall vision of marketing and shows and conferences that we go to, client relationships. I have a lot of clients that I’ve worked with for a decade plus, as you know, bring people onto cases that are such high stakes. There’s a lot of trust in the people that you bring in and partner with vendors, co-counsel. And so I do a lot of that and just a lot of the front lines work on just bringing cases into DK Global.

And then I also direct and produce the projects that come in. So work with the production team hand in hand. We have an amazing team that we get to work with, animators, illustrators, storyboard artists, and really just a lot of the day to day, but also really just I get to hear about all of the cases that are in need of visuals. And that’s where I thrive is in that space where I get to interface and communicate with experts and with attorneys on what visual best fits the case that they have in front of them.

Darl: Tell us from your perspective, why do you think visuals are important in personal injury cases?

Alex: The age old verbiage of a picture is worth a thousand words is true here. And I think now more than ever to tell a story and to hold attention span, visuals are key. I remember back when iPads first came out and I was talking about how in 2010 or 11 I think, or when those first came out, we were running around, we were talking about iPads and the importance of being able to present on an iPad.

You have jurors and you have people who are fighting the urge to look at their phone, so they’re fighting the urge to look at a screen. So give them a screen to look at. And I think when you have an operative note that goes through a lumbar discectomy infusion, that isn’t something that the lay person is necessarily going to understand. And if they do, they have certain ideas about it.

It really just depends on the exposure that that person has had to surgical procedures to understand cutting open a back, going into the spine, pulling pieces of the vertebral bodies out. You just don’t understand that.

So having a visual that brings that two-page operative note to life is paramount to connecting with your viewer on what kind of damages and invasive procedures they had to go through. So I think every case warrants some type of visual. I mean, I’ve done property dispute cases where it’s just highlighting properties and rent control.

I think every case lends itself to a visual storytelling component, especially now where everyone’s looking at screens pandemic really kind of pushed that into overdrive where you’re looking at screens even more. There’s a lot of zoom trials, zoom mediations, zoom depositions. So I think visuals are important because we’re such visual learners and because of the phones now, I think the average iPhone user touches their iPhone 2,600 times a day to look at a screen. So give them a screen to look at is kind of what I say.

Darl: Well, I think in terms of talking about visuals and why they’re important, a lot of people use it for injuries depicting surgeries, and that to me is critical in our firm. If our client had any kind of injection, pain management procedure, anything, we’re doing a visual of that because it’s one thing to tell somebody, oh, they had an epidural steroid injection. Well that involve, it involves a giant needle going into their back.

Alex: And people hate needles.

Darl: Yeah, people hate needles. One time we had a trial in a metro Atlanta County several years ago, and we got a phenomenal result, well above policy limits, well above any offer. And our client had some facet injections in her, I think it was her low back, and we had just a regular 2D illustration. The case value didn’t a massive 3D animation or anything like that, but we had somebody create just kind of a basic 2D animation showing or illustration showing it deposed or the doctor had him walk through it and it really drove the point home.

And one of the jurors told me afterwards that he said, wow, I knew your client was injured and not making this up when I saw those needles sticking into their spine. And so I think that driving that home is important, but the other thing that we’ve done a lot of work on is showing the wreck. I mean, y’all have worked with us on showing the circumstances of the injury, and one comes to mind in particular where it was a Aramark box truck that was traveling down the road and the driver just blew through a red light.

And it’s great to be able to show the driver and kind of the timer down where it’s like, it’s the anticipation what’s coming and they’re just driving down the road and just showing that is really powerful.

Alex: Yeah, I agree. I think anytime that you can, especially if the other side has dipped the liability, they don’t want you to show any kind of, they don’t want to show that the person just blatantly ran a red light that they weren’t paying attention.

And if you can tie that into the mechanism of injury, your honor, it’s important for us to show the collision because it has to do with biomechanical forces delta V to show that these injuries were caused to her spine, her brain, her traumatic brain injury, which has been a dispute. So it’s very important that we show this collision, and in the collision we have a camera follow you showing that person blow through a red light.

You want the viewer to be looking at the screen and be like, no, no, no, no, no. It’s like you want that visceral reaction when somebody’s watching that.

Darl: It’s that anticipation that that’s going to happen. Yeah, it’s coming and you’re just sitting there like, ah, don’t do it.

Alex: Yeah.

Darl: Yeah. And I think in terms of the 2D versus the 3D, that’s one of the things I wanted to talk about with you is what are some common examples of visuals that you see, right? I mean, we’ve talked about the kind of original one was probably the surgical medical illustration. Somebody has a surgery and they illustrated, but what are some of the most common ones that your company’s creating for personal injury lawyers?

Alex: Sure. Yeah. And we specialize in 3D. We do pretty much all 3D when it comes to the differences though, we do have some 2D presentations. An example of that would be it’s a flat image, so it’s a medical illustration depiction of a spine or a broken rib or injection, and it’s just a flat image or an overhead map.

If we take a Google map and we just want to do some kind of traffic collision report recreation just to show where the cars were coming from and where it is not necessarily the full reconstruction dynamics. Those are kind of the 2D illustration or 2D graphics that we do.

Even our medical illustrations, we call them 3D stills because essentially what we’re doing is we’re modeling the 3D still and we’re just doing a high render resolution render of that 3D still. So it still has that depth that we just like to specialize in.

When it comes to 2D, you’ll see some 2D animations, and the way you can tell those is it’s a flat image and you see tools kind of coming in from the side and doing little procedures. And I think those could be effective. There is a venue for those at times. I mean, it’s got to make economic sense for your case. The policy has to warrant it. That’s totally understandable. I would not recommend a $50,000 animation for $150,000 policy limit. So I think there’s a wide variety.

And another 2D element that we work in is by just taking the X-ray image and if there’s a fracture, we just did this on a patella fracture for an knee, and you can kind of see the shadowing of the fracture on the patella, right?

Well, we took it and we highlighted the fracture in, had our medical illustrators draw over the fracture, and then we put some bone textures on it. So you have a little bit of red around the fracture line, which the doctor opines to, which would happen in a bone fracture. We highlight it a little bit in red just so it could be visible. And then we put bone textures on the femur and on the fibula just so it gives it a little bit more light. So you’re not just showing a black and white image, but you’re showing an image that has the bone textures and the fracture line that’s 2D. It’s simple and super cost effective. So that is definitely one that I would recommend if you have one that’s a little bit lower policy limit and is also 2D.

Darl: What about something similar with MRIs showing a herniated disc? Is that something that you’ve seen created?

Alex: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s something that we do frequently as well, is we do all different types mean, as you know, motor vehicle accidents, it’s back and brain and usually depending on the speeds involved, it’s back. You’re dealing with cervical issues, some thoracic and lumbar, but a lot of cervical issues. So disc herniations, bulges.

So yeah, just taking the image and just having somebody put some colorization on it does a lot for your case. So definitely something we do. And then we have a lot of stock like 3D like axial views of a disc bulge that we can put in there with the colorized imagery. So there’s just so much that could be done to add to just an MRI film that has your client’s disc bulges on there that really communicates why they’re in pain, why we’re here, and why they’re going to need surgery.

Darl: So you mentioned the different types of cases that y’all do, and I know that over the course of the last few years, as we’ve talked about cases, again, I think most people are thinking accident reconstruction with an animation or a medical side, but what are some ones that a lot of lawyers really may not think of when it comes to a visual that y’all created and found to be effective, whether it’s a trip and fall med mal or any kind of case?

Alex: Yeah, definitely. We do a lot of trip and falls. We do surveillance video enhancement, and then couple that with a 3D image. So if we see somebody fall in a surveillance video, we don’t need to recreate that, but then we’ll take that screenshot and morph into 3D, like cross fade and match the angles to show, hey, this is the injury that they sustained.

So slip and fall medical malpractice is a big one because we don’t just show what the below standard of care action was that led to the damage, we’ll then show here’s how the surgery could have happened or it should have happened. So it’s the what if scenario, what the doctor could have done. We do product failure cases. I’ve done an air purifier case where we go in, we have an air purifier, zooms in thing pulls apart, we label all the parts, it zooms back in and we show where it failed and why the copper coil got too hot and caught the place on fire and then spread.

We’ve done fire cases where we’re showing kind of burn patterns. We did the Thomas fire cases out here in California and we showed the failure of all of the different lines. We had a huge map that zoomed into all of the different stations and power poles that had lack of maintenance, and we had the dates come up. And so there’s just such a universe of visuals that can be made.

And like I said, I’ve done rent control cases where they wanted to, it was a case, I dunno, maybe like 10 years ago in Maine, but there’s these apartment buildings that had shopping centers on the first two rows, and then it was a residential apartment. Well, they changed the second to a pool and a workout room, but it was not available to anyone in the residential suites. But they raised their rent because of it.

So we had a 3D model of the building. We showed the different layouts, we showed all the amenities. We had a little number of the rents going up, and then we said that they couldn’t have use of those, and they did very well in the case.

So there’s just a lot that can be done visually. I think especially cases that may seem boring or monotonous with data, I think it’s even more important to get visuals done. So yeah, I think people think reconstruction animations for car accidents, but really any kind of case I think can want some kind of visual.

Darl: Does your company create the interactive timelines where you can have a timeline of events, whether it has to do with negligence or medical treatment, and then you can interact with it while there’s somebody testifying and pull up images or other things?

Alex: Yeah, yeah. We’ve done that before and we’ve done some interactive presentations. So we have done timelines where you can kind of click through and create a presentation where emails come up and then you have that exhibit of the email actually come up and you click through again and then it goes to the phone call or doctor’s visits. So all different types of timelines that we’ve created.

And we recently created, it was an interactive presentation for Jeb Butler and Matt Conn on a case against Georgia Power. And it was a case that had to do with a dam system, and there was pulleys and waters that fill up chambers and then pressures, and they wanted to be able to click on certain aspects and show the functionality of when you close this gate, this water fills up this chamber. And they wanted to be able to click and have those things actually interact and move. And we were able to do that for them.

And I think they settled that one for eight figures as well. But there was no damage to the body in it. Unfortunately, it was a wrongful death, but it was just a mechanical animation to just walk through why the liability was so glaring. So yeah, we’ve done interactive presentations before.

Darl: The range of costs, I imagine this very significantly. Some of the ones we’ve done have been very, very expensive. But for somebody out there that’s never really utilized a 3D animation, what is just kind of the range of costs just overall from an entry level to do a basic 3D animation up to the most expensive?

Alex: Sure. Yeah. A range of cost is a couple thousand to hundreds of thousands. It’s so dependent on your case. I mean, we have project averages when it comes to a reconstruction, but the reconstruction depends on how many vehicles are we showing crush mores? Is it rural and we’re just modeling grass and dirt, or are we modeling a downtown LA city block? So there’s so many different elements involved, but I would say cost range wise, if you’re doing a reconstruction animation that involves vehicles, it involves animating cars interacting, moving, crashing together.

And if we’re modeling some of the damages, if we have people on those cars, we’re probably looking at something in the 30 K range, maybe up to 40. It could be less than that. And I will tell you darl, and I’m sure everyone knows, you will always find somebody out there who will do the work for cheap, and you want to take that into account because admissibility plays a factor.

You can spend $12,000 on an animation that gets kicked because the admissibility and the foundation wasn’t there. Or you can spend $30,000 on something that helps you recoup that cost. So really just making sure whatever studio you use, that they are really making sure that the production process is tight knit to involve experts and witnesses and evidence.

So the foundation is there for use, but I’ve worked on cases that are a couple thousand dollars. I just did one 1600 bucks for some colorized medical imagery to show a fracture. And I think one of the bigger cases I did, the total cost was $326,000. But I flew to Louisiana, we did a day in the life we did interviews. This poor couple was sleeping in their trailer that they were had just retired, and they were bought out property in the Midwest, I think Colorado, and they were moving from Louisiana to Colorado. They were sleeping in a parking lot that a bunch of truckers were at, and a Walmart driver falls asleep at the wheel, goes over the grass median through the fence, plows into them everything. They own head to toe injuries for both of ’em. I think each of ’em had eight or nine surgeries.

So we did everything on that case, but it warranted it because the liability was so bad and the defense, the defendants were paying the medical bills before suit was even filed. So that gives some inference on their, they understood the liability and that was not an if it was a how much and it resolved for 28.5 million. So it made sense to spend that kind of money on that case to really tell the story.

And I think it also shortened litigation six months or so because you’re getting everything out there. You’re showing what kind of witnesses they’re going to be. You’re showing that, hey, these are all trial ready exhibits and it’s just, it’s together in a documentary type presentation. So it just depends on the case really.

Darl: Yeah. So that was going to be one of the topics I want to discuss with you is just kind of overall the considerations for getting visuals. And the first one is really timing is when the case to do it. Because there’s the thought of, and I have this conversation with my clients, some of the ones that y’all have done for us have been in the 60 to $70,000 range.

And that’s the kind of expense that I want to talk to my clients about. Hey, I’m thinking about doing this and here’s why. And I’ve never had a client push back and say, no. I always tell ’em, I think this is going to add value to the case and you’re going to get a return on investment. So think of it as an investment, but there’s always the thought where you’re like, man, if I do it too early in the case, what if we were going to resolve it for a great number anyway? Did we just spend $60,000 that we may not have needed? I mean, I can share with you.

I mean, my general view is if we’re dealing with a policy limit situation and we think we’re going to get limits anyway, at some point, it’s like I, I’m going to want to wait a little while. Like, well, why not? Let’s just wait and see if we get the policy limits and then if we don’t and we’re going to be going to trial, then I’ll get it.

The first y’all did with us, it involved a very large insurance policy though, but we still wanted to do it early because it was like 10 million in insurance. And so that would be kind of my advice to any attorneys listening is if it’s a 1 million, $3 million policy, I mean that still is a good size policy, but you think you’re going to be able to get it without the animation, maybe wait a little while. But if you’re dealing with a large policy and you’re like, man, I want to drive this home and really make a push to get this resolved for the max policy limits, or you’re dealing with a situation where there’s sort of unlimited coverage.

We had a case involving a large company and y’all did an animation for us on it, and that was one where the coverage really wasn’t a consideration. It was like, this is just going to add value. But you mentioned something about flying to Louisiana, doing a day in the live video. What are some of the ways, because some people just think of it as, oh, I’m just going to use this at trial, just going to or have this used in a deposition. What are some of the ways you’ve seen animations used? And I can tell you after you talk about it, some of the ways that I’ve used them.

Alex: Yeah, no, I’d love to hear that as well. And how I’ve seen it used in working here in clients in cases that I’ve worked on is throughout when I’m training another visual consultant, I’ll go on the whiteboard and I’ll write out a timeline of incident that is the catalyst of suit to resolution, whether it’s verdict, judgment, settlement, and I’ll put the milestones all the way through.

I know they fluctuate a bit, but there’s discovery depositions, there’s mediations, there’s MSCs, there’s all of these things in this timeline, depending on the case. I mean, I’m working on a case right now where they haven’t even filed suit, but they’ve already said, hey, we want to resolve this before you file suit. Okay, there’s a big policy involved. There’s two people. We’re looking to get five to 10 million per plaintiff because it’s against a very big defendant with a very big policy, and they crossed the center line for whatever reason and hit our folks who were doing nothing wrong and have catastrophic injuries.

One of them was going to be a nurse. She could no longer be a nurse. We got futureomics. The formula is there, so it makes sense to do a presentation that is really going to hammer the point very, very early on. And we’re even going to film them a bit to show how articulate they are, how great witnesses they’re going to be, how likable they’re going to be.

So it does a lot to do it very, very early on in that scenario. You can use ’em for mediation. I’m always a fan of doing it earlier because if we cross t’s and DOT i’s like it’s going to go to trial anyway, obviously if we’re creating a settlement documentary, it’s not just going to, if you don’t just play that in trial as you know, but you can take out the pieces of the surgical animations and some of the graphics and the recon and then lay the foundation with your experts, whether you do it during the production process or whether when you bring your expert back on, we show them the storyboards and the previews, they give their input and we render out a trial-ready version.

So there’s so many different points in the timeline of litigation that you can use it for. And I fully agree with you, if you’ve got a million-dollar policy and they’re going to pay it, then it does not make economic sense. Protect your client’s net. But if you have a massive policy, their job, even if it’s admitted liability, their job is to shave a dollar.

If it’s a $10 million policy, my goal is to pay you six and go no higher than seven. Well, how do we get nine? How do we get 10? And I’ll tell you, I worked with an attorney who did both sides of the law. He has retired since and he did defense work. He did a lot of defense work, but he did some plaintiff work, and that’s kind of how we knew him. We worked with him on some plaintiff stuff, and then we did a couple of defense cases with him because he does both.

And he told me once that he said, Alex, out of all the years I’ve done this, I’ve never settled a case with a plaintiff’s firm where they didn’t leave money on the table, and it may have been 10,000, it may have been 50,000, it may have been million. And that always stuck with me. That means, oh, wow. And he didn’t get into specifics. I tried to get him, but I think he’s going to write a book. So he didn’t tell me, but that stuck with me. It was like, okay, are you leaving money on the table? And I think that’s really what it is, and sometimes it’s worth getting that out there to the right people, the right layers of insurances and adjusters. And because you want to, it may save six months or a year of litigation.

And really what that means is time that your client is waiting without financial compensation to where maybe they’re going into debt, they’re not able to work, they’re in pain, there’s surgeries that they need. So it can really shorten that litigation time. If you show them upfront, here’s the liability, here’s the trial exhibit. I’ve done all my homework. I’m ready for trial next month if it were going to go that even though it’s a year away. So I’m a big fan of using it early when it makes sense.

Darl: And sort of the caveat to this is if you’ve got a million dollar case, certain visuals still are going to be appropriate. I mean, you still may want to do a 2D or a low cost 3D if you can get one done. We’re talking about if you think you’re going to get the policy limits of a million bucks, don’t go out and spend 60, $70,000 from the get-go.

But if your case is going to trial, then yeah, you may need it. One of the ways that I used the animation that y’all did, and this was a pickup truck driving down the road, guy was drunk, blew through a red light. T-boned our client at over 60 miles an hour, serious injuries head to toe, and y’all did from the accident reconstructionist who sent y’all all the data, the accident reconstructionist worked with y’all along getting the animation created for that.

It showed the actual collision. Then we had the injuries head to toe, all the surgeries. So I mean that by itself as a standalone would’ve been usable in a demand, would’ve been usable in depositions, would’ve been usable in a mediation. But what we did is we used a company, a settlement documentary company. They created a great documentary video with interviews from our client, family members, everybody, and wove in the animation that y’all created.

So as somebody’s talking about what happened in the collision, it’s them talking, then it shows the animation, then it cuts back to them as you’re talking about the injuries and what was broken. It’s showing that, and that really was powerful and being able to use that, I would encourage people to not think narrowly about how it can be used. You can use it for multiple purposes. But the one thing I wanted to mention too on timing, it’s why it’s important to start your investigation in your case early and make sure you have the data and the information you’re going to need to create an illustration or animation that will be admissible.

So having the reconstruction done was very important in that case because we got the vehicles downloaded, we had somebody go out and do measurements, 3D scan of the scene. That really helped with creating that, and I’m sure it makes y’all’s lives a lot easier.

Alex: Yes, yeah. The more data we have, the better input equals output when it comes to these visuals, and that includes client input. When we work with y’all, you, you’re about your business. We get everything we need from the exit reconstruction experts. You’re available for questions. I mean, the more you spend time with the company producing the visuals, the more it’s going to come out the way you need it to. So yes, absolutely. Input equals output in that respect.

Darl: Yeah, yeah. And so when we’re talking about timing as well, some of this, sometimes lawyers are notorious for getting things to people at the last minute, hey, I need this yesterday.

Alex: Yeah.

Darl: What do you advise lawyers who are going to need something created to say, hey, if you’ve got this event coming up, you think you might need it for this, this is when you should engage us and reach out to us so that we can have time to gather the information, create a proposal for you, and then actually create what you need.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. I’m always a fan of before your deposition and even discovery deadlines like expert discovery deadlines, that way you have your reconstruction expert, your medical experts, you’ve given that information, you’ve submitted that as your expert for the expert discovery disclosures and deadlines, and we’re involved in that process.

And then depositions. I’ve worked on cases where we’ve had the defense authenticate our damage exhibits because he showed that, hey, is this how the ankle fracture would happen? Here’s how the surgery would happen based off the operative note that you reviewed. And the guy was like, yeah, so the defendant authenticated our exhibits. We still laid the foundation and presented with our doctor, of course, but if you can use it in a deposition, it does multiple things. One, it shows the other side your posture a little bit of like, hey, we’re taking this very seriously and you should too.

Two, if they have any objections to the exhibit, they have to give it and it’s on record now. And then when motions in limine come around and they’re objecting to the exhibit, you could say, well, your Honor, we took the deposition. We have another version that actually adheres to what their objections were. We’ve removed that line of text.

We took out that speed limit, whatever it is. So I think utilizing it before you have depositions coming up is key. But we also understand that things happen and I mean, we’re working on a case right now where they gave us two weeks. He’s got trial in a month, mediation in two weeks, and some of the clients we work with or they parachute in at the last minute because they’re the trial team and they call us and they need what they need. Nick Row is one of them.

He’s nationally known. He just hit, we just worked with them on a case versus Tesla, and we did a monumental amount of work in a very short period of time, but that was the need. And I think at DK, and that’s I think another difference of who we are and a lot of the other studios out there is we have the infrastructure and experience to turn something around that would normally take a month or two in a week because we have the systems, the backup we have, you have to have the technological capability to render out an animation.

And anyone in the 3D world knows that rendering takes time. It could take days to render something we could get all the animatics set up, but to make it polished and textured in the sun systems and all of that takes a lot of time. So we’ve pulled some miracle turnarounds, but when it comes to timing, I think the earlier the better. And if you can get it involved before your deposition and at least maybe even have storyboards or a rough preview for your deposition, that’s always what I advise because it gives you the most leeway in how you’re going to utilize it.

Darl: I want to hit on something you said. I think it’s a great point. Creating this shows that you’re taking the case seriously. It shows the other side that you’re preparing the case for trial, and here’s something else too. When you go to trial, it shows the jury that you’re taking the case seriously and that it’s, again, I come back to the trial example I gave earlier where we had illustrations done of a facet injection to show that to the jury.

I mean, some people may try that case with a medical narrative like no doctor testimony, just a statement from the doctor, and no illustration. If you’re sitting on the jury, think about how you’re going to perceive that case versus one where the lawyers are doing it, making it and driving home the fact this is a serious case and we put in the work and we’ve put in the time they’re going to take it more seriously.

And so I think that’s a really, really important point. The other thing too I would point out is I see this a lot with a lot of defense attorneys. There’s kind of this settlement first mentality of, oh, we’re just going to work it up. We’re going to do some depositions, and then we’ll just go to mediation and settle the case.

Well, when you’re coming out the gate harmed and you’re getting a DK Global animation.

Alex: Coming in hot, yeah.

Darl: Yeah. I mean, when you’re like, hey, I’ve already got the, I mean one of the cases that we worked on involving a box truck that it was a confidential resolution, but that was one where from the beginning we’re like, hey, we’re getting this done. We’re going to show the scene. We’re going to show what happened in the collision. The driver running the red light. We’re going to show…

Alex: We show body cam footage afterwards.

Darl: We had the animation done of the surgery showing the injury. The subsequent, I think, this person ended up in pain management as well after the fact. And we came out the gate and we’re like, this is it from the beginning.

Alex: Here’s the time it’s let’s go. Yeah.

Darl: So I think that’s really important. And imagine the defense attorney on the other side when doing their report to the insurance company or if somebody at the company or a third party administrator, they’re going to be reporting, hey, plaintiff’s gearing up for trial. They’ve done this, they’ve done this, they’ve invested in getting these things created. It kind of changes the tone of the case and lets them know that you are serious. So I certainly appreciate that perspective and agree with it completely. What are some mistakes that you’ve seen when lawyers are getting demonstrative exhibits created for their cases?

Alex: Yeah, I think trying to do too much when the evidence is already there. If you have a video of it, unless you’re doing a mechanism of injury, use the video. Sometimes photos are better than anything you can show when it comes to a crushed vehicle or damage. So when it comes to reconstruction animations, when vehicles, what evidence do you have and is it going to be better than an animation?

I think there’s always visuals that can go along with that type of evidence. So that’s one. Getting involved too late I think is a mistake because it can detour you from putting the kind of input that you want to put in as the attorney, the director of the exhibit, getting your experts involved because right before trial, man, demonstratives are just one of 50 things that you are worrying about as you prepare for trial.

If you’re getting involved early, you can dedicate so much more time and focus to how you want to utilize that. Getting the experts involved, consulting, making sure because little nuances of visuals can really play the difference as far as what colors you use. We’re big on cognitive science, so when we have presentations that are the timeline presentations and we’re showing defense experts, we will watch a video deposition and catch them in like a frown, and then that’s their photo throughout the trial in the timeline and also colors.

So I think again, the level of input, timing-wise is one, and I think trying to do too much with a visual, another is being able to effectively present it. There are cases and venues where you can just create a presentation like you did on Lindsey Pike where you create the documentary, you have the visuals and it’s dateline ready almost, I like to call ’em dateline documentaries because it walks through the whole story.

It’s got voice narration, it’s got all of the things where it’s just, it’s a documentary. You send that to the other side and then you do your litigation and get that resolved. But you also have to know how to present the animation in the visual practice with it.

Have your expert be very familiar with it and practice with it. I’ve been in trial before and I’ve watched the other side have an expert walk through a visual that they had obviously just seen. They didn’t really, they were not connecting with that visual. And then our doctor got up and he essentially directed it and he’s narrating it just smooth. So I think having your experts really make sure that they’re looking at it is big and that requires time. It requires follow up. And then you as the attorney when you present it, am I going to try it for opening for closing?

Am I going to do it in testimony? And don’t overplay it either. I think don’t play it nine times, play it the once or twice that it is going to be most impactful. So those were some of the mistakes that I’ve seen and it really has to do with timing and then not recreating something that you already have very powerful evidence of is another.

And if you have actual photos and actual video, then there’s always something you can do with those, but you don’t necessarily need to recreate an animation that you have surveillance video of the incident. I know a case we just recently worked on, we have some very difficult video to watch and we’re using animation with it, but we’re not necessarily recreating everything. We’re interacting with the video where these different videos came from and then showing certain things, but really leaning on the actual video evidence to tell the story along with animation. So I think just making sure that you’re being effective and how you’re utilizing the visuals.

Darl: And I think like you said, don’t overthink it too much. I mean, there’s times where simple is okay, and we had a case settle sort of in the last month and it was going to be going to trial in a relatively rural county, and I thought about getting an animation created. I’m like, you know what? We don’t need one. And I did worry that the jurors may think that we were like these hotshot lawyers bringing in a big animation and all this other stuff, and I’m like, you know what?

Sometimes just the tone down presentation in terms of how you’re presenting it as all that’s necessary, because the other evidence speaks for itself. I mean, in that case, I had a 2D animation of the surgery. I had a 2D animation of the mechanism of injury and all that, and I’m like, I don’t do anything else in 3D. The 2D will be perfectly fine.

I think that as lawyers, it’s just important to do the visual thing. And I mean myself, I consider myself a visual learner. I perceive things that well, and I really think that regardless of case, even if you’re not using a company, if you’re just getting up and drawing something and having somebody to pick something, just being able to show that to the jury is just incredibly important. And so always give that consideration.

Alex, before we wrap up, I just want to ask you one final question because I think this is important for lawyers to know. If lawyers out there are thinking about getting some visuals created for a case and they’re talking to vendors, well, what are the questions they should ask a vendor when choosing which one to go with?

Alex: Absolutely. Great question. I think experience is key. I would ask, how long have y’all been doing this? Because you may have somebody who just put up a website and they’ve been around for a year and they’ve got a couple of examples, but they’re not battle tested when it comes to, hey, I need this quick change, or else it’s getting thrown out, oh, we can’t touch it until next week or next month or you can’t get ahold of them.

So experience level production process. Ask them, what’s your production process and how you work with my experts and listen for some key terminology and language like admissibility and foundation and then also visual language. We use drafts, storyboards, previews, things that really identify that they are very aware that their production process has to coincide with evidence and expert analysis, back and opinion, asking that, asking what their turnaround time is.

I know companies that won’t touch anything and it’s due under six weeks. Sometimes you need something fast and not necessarily a project fast, but the judge makes a funky ruling on emotion and you have to change something in 3D super quick.

That happened in our Tesla case in the afternoon. The judge ruled on something that, I wouldn’t say it was a bad ruling, but it was a ruling and we had to change a 3D component and it had to render overnight. And you have to have the technological capability to do something that fast and the resources and the experience to, I think a smaller company that maybe works out of their living room, they would not have been able to technologically complete that in time accessibility. Someone that you can get ahold of. My clients have my cell phone number, I think you and I text.

So it’s like it just having somebody who understands that being an advocate for your client is not Monday through Friday, nine to five. It is something where you may need something over a weekend, it may need to be at night. I’ve had conversations with clients at three, four in the morning before trial before just we know what time it is and we know that we’re in a battle.

So accessibility, having somebody that you can access and be able to communicate with as much as you need to get the demonstrative and to get the visual where it needs to be. And for me, I’m of course super biased, but I’m very passionate about storytelling, about visuals. I have a little bit of a film background, a little bit of a psychology background in sociology, so I kind of understand the persuasiveness and the value of visuals.

But finding a company that I think is passionate about advocating and helping your client. When we have wins and we hear about results, we put it in our company group chat and people cheer and love, we get to know the clients as best we can with that we’re working on. So I care. I text my clients how to trial goes, you get the exhibit. It’s like, I really genuinely care about the results of, because they’re people, you’re helping people, and I think finding a company that embodies those things is important to get the best visual that you can for your client.

Darl: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. Working with experts is important. I know that we’ve had a few where you’ve worked with our accident reconstructionist and our accident, reconstructionists actually bring y’all up from time to time, and one of the cases that we just worked on that’s scheduled for a trial coming up, they kind of raised the issue. They were like, hey, this would be a good one for DK. Why don’t you get them involved? I was like, you know what? I was probably going to do that anyway, but that’s a great point. Let me go ahead and do that.

And we talked about how we could utilize that. I think too, for the attorneys listening, it’s good to kind of know who’s good at what. There are certain vendors that are good at things. I mean, y’all are really good at creating high end 3D animations, and I’m sure that y’all are. The 2D stuff’s good too, but from my perspective, your bread and butter’s the really phenomenal 3D animations. 

Alex: That’s fair. Yeah.

Darl: And so I know if I’ve got a high dollar case and I need a 3D animation, that’s who I’m going to use. But I also know, hey, if I’ve got a lower value case where there were some injections or whatever, I’m going to go and get a 2D image done with the local company. They could just create it because I don’t need that full-blown thing.

The other thing, if there’s one that’s kind of in between, we’ve got kind of a company that we’ve used for some of those two Ds. But I think the other thing too, you mentioned earlier about stock images that y’all have. We got some stock images from one of the companies we use for kind of just some of the routine stuff. Absolutely. Yeah. Hey, those are great that I can use in a settlement demand package or whatever and send that on and say, hey, look, this kind of shows what was done in our case.

And then later you can decide if you want to get one specifically tailored to your facts or not. But I think certainly thinking about these things, and I think that’s the one thing that’s just important is just to be thinking critically about your case from the beginning. If you don’t preserve the evidence, you don’t download the event recorder, you don’t take steps, you may have problems creating the animation down the road and just think about it ahead of time. And if you’re going to get a big 3D animation done with DK, they can turn it around quickly, but try not to wait until the last minute.

Alex: Yeah. And one note, I’m surprised, I was surprised at this, but ask for the radiology, ask for it early, and I know y’all do that. You always give, whenever we do the workup, you give us the radiology reports and have it ready. I’ve worked with a lot of attorneys who I’m asking for the radiology and they have the reports so they know the fractures and they’re working up their case appropriately based on the damages.

But when it comes to the actual films that we need to produce the 3D and mark it up because we mark it up, we make sure the fractures or the fractures, that’s the evidence that it’s coming from. It’s like, oh no, we don’t have that brain study. Get ask it, don’t a rush. So get your imagery right away. If you get a report, ask for the studies immediately. Because there’s a lot of times where I’ve been on calls for, we don’t have that radiology. Okay, ask for it and then that can cause delay. So that’s one note I think is a given. Anytime you have radiology imagery, get it from the company right away.

Darl: Great, great point. And that’s something that we’ve kind of baked into our medical records process is making sure that we get the films so that we have the x-rays and the MRIs from the beginning and because it is important.

So Alex, before we wrap up, tell us if somebody wants to reach out to you and talk about a case, maybe get some quotes on some different ideas, what’s the best way for them to contact you?

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. You can reach us at just DKGlobal.com. Go to our website and we’re available to talk. And I can provide my cell phone number as well. I’m one of those where I have people call me just to talk strategy on cases and we may not even do anything. I may direct them towards Google Images and say, hey, use this, use that. It’s like, I want to be a go-to to resource for all of my clients, whether they use me or not, or whether I direct them to something that’s more cost-effective or we talk about something down the road or I’m just giving them ideas.

So I think the best thing to do is to go to our website and then you can type in some information about your case that comes directly to us. You can absolutely call me directly. I’ll provide cell phone and email in the info for this podcast. And I would love to talk to you about your case and how we can help and give you some examples of what other attorneys are using visuals around the country and cases like yours and what the outcomes are. So would love to consult and talk shop. I’m always available to talk shop on how we can help.

Darl: Great. Well, thanks for joining us, Alex, and thank you for listening to our listeners. Please follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube. If anybody wants to reach out to me about our experience working with DK or some examples of some of the visuals we’ve had them create, I’m happy to share them and talk with you about our experience with it. And Alex, I look forward to continuing to work with y’all in the future.

Alex: Okay. I’m looking forward to the next one already Darl, it’s a pleasure speaking with you and looking forward to getting some more justice for your clients in the future.

Darl: Awesome, thank you.


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