Legal Animation in US Courts Makes A New Shift In Road Traffic Accident Cases

Like every sector that has advanced with tech, the legal industry has welcomed legal animation in courts while keeping its use within the dictates of the law.
Legal Animation
Photo by Matt C on Unsplash

Legal animation is gradually becoming the trend and has managed to spread like wildfire throughout American courts.

However, the fire is not without control. 

Without a doubt, legal animation has the enchanting capabilities to turn a jury in your favor. This is why evidential laws have been set up to prevent irregularities that would cause injustice in the use of legal animations in court. Given this, one can safely overlook the vehement accusations of some scholars as to the prejudicing capabilities of this type of demonstrative evidence.

What Is A Road Traffic Accident?

A traffic accident is when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, whether a car, motorcycle, truck, a person, an animal, or an immovable structure like trees and poles on a road or public area open to traffic. 

According to the World Health Organization, “every year the lives of approximately 1.3 million people are cut short as a result of a road traffic crash. Between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury.”

In addition to that, it was stated that more than half of road traffic deaths occur among vulnerable road users, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycles.

Legal animations have been used several times in cases involving traffic accidents.

US Courts Featuring Legal Animation in Traffic Accident Cases

Over the years, US courts have witnessed the rise in the use of legal animation in cases including traffic accident cases. Going in line with the federal rules of evidence and the respective rules of evidence of different states, the court has been able to regularize the law supporting the use of legal animation as evidence to avoid injustice.

Here are some traffic accident cases and what the court had to say about their admissibility:

  1. District Court of Appeal of Florida: Pierce v. State 

In the instant case, the appellant was found guilty of vehicular homicide as he hit three children, one of which was a six-year-old with his truck, and fled the accident scene. The 6-year-old died while the remaining boys sustained severe injuries.

The state, in this case, decided to file a notice of intent to use legal animation to portray its expert witness’ reconstruction of the accident. A pre-trial was held to this effect, and it was established that the AUTOCAD program used for the accident reconstruction was accepted in the engineering field.

It was held admissible as it conformed to section 90.105, Florida Statutes (1991).

  1. Court of Appeals of Georgia: Cleveland v. Bryant

In the instant case, the appellant who sued the defendant for the injuries she suffered in a traffic accident claims that legal animation provided by the defendant in the trial court was wrongly admitted as evidence. The expert who created the reconstruction testified thathe visited the accident scene, made measurements, inspected the tractor-trailer, reviewed photographs of the damaged truck and car, witnessed the truck traveling on the roadway in an experiment and examined a car of the same make as Cleveland’s.” 

Furthermore, the animation portrayed the accident in a fair and accurate way. It was held that the trial court rightly admitted the legal animation as evidence.

  1. Supreme Court of Tennessee: State v. Farner  

In this case, a collision occurred at a drag race between two cars. In portraying the incident, an expert witness reconstructed the scene of the accident and gave the incident from multiple angles and speeds.

The court determined if the legal animation accurately depicted the accident and if “the danger of unfair prejudice substantially outweighed its probative value.” The legal animation was neither fair nor substantially outweighed any unfair prejudice to the case.

While legal animations, when accurate and non-prejudicial, are admissible in Tennessee courts, the animation was deemed inadmissible because it failed to meet the standards of the law.

CONCLUSION

Legal animation, if the rules of fairness stipulated by the courts are followed, would be admissible. If these rules are not followed, the litigation animation may be inadmissible, as seen in the Washington case of State v. Hultenschmidt.

Therefore, if the services of a good attorney and an exceptional litigation animation company are used, your litigation animation would be deemed admissible, as seen in the Oklahoma case of Tull v. federal express corp.

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