Marking The Gulf Between Legal Animation and Simulation

Simulation is often confused with legal animation, even though they aren't the same. The use of simulation or animation depends solely on the facts of the case.
Legal Animation
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

When a piece of evidence that is recognized as an animation to a layman is presented as evidence before the court, phrases such as “lack of proper foundation,” “confusion of the jury,” “not identical to what happened,” or “does not meet the scientific requirements” are thrown around by the opposing counsel. Now, you may wonder why the opposing counsel is objecting to the admissibility of a piece of evidence such as legal animation that seems harmless and shouldn’t constitute confusion. You will understand this as you go on in this article.

When using demonstrative evidence that features animation, the attorney has to be clear on what the animation is about.

Knowing what an animation is about is imperative in choosing whether a case requires animation or a simulation. 

Now, why the objection? 

What is the difference between legal animation and legal simulation?

 In a nutshell, the difference between both pieces of evidence is what is depicted therein.

It has to do with the content of the animation and how it relates to the case at hand. We’ll explain further.

Legal Animation Depicts Expert’s Or Witnesses’ Testimony 

Legal animation is used to portray the witness’ or expert’s testimony of what occurred. It is asking your witness to describe what they saw to the jury. Therefore, legal animation is not evidence in itself but an illustration of actual evidence. 

On the expert’s part, legal animation is the portrayal of the expert’s witness in the case. It is usually connected to actual evidence and serves to affirm the happenings of the incident, howbeit simply and concisely.

While real evidence can be provided via word of mouth, it is considered more appropriate in cases where the jury would need visual stimulation to prevent them from mixing up the facts and causing needless confusion. With legal animation, real evidence is provided in a simplified format to enable understanding and conciseness during the development of the case. 

Legal animation can be in the form of medical animation, road incident animation, construction incident animation, or personal injury animation. 

Legal simulation is quite different from legal animation.

Legal Simulation Is the Expert’s Opinion 

The first thing you need to know about legal simulation is that it is more complex and is usually not easily admissible. 

Why is this? 

Legal simulation is not derived only from real evidence but mainly showcases the expert’s opinion after several scientific analyses of the situation. To create a computer simulation, the available data is fed into a scientific program that helps to determine scientifically what happened in the case. This is where forensic animation and accident reconstruction come in. 

Even though legal simulations are not easily admissible, if they meet the strict requirements set in the federal case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is also in line with the Federal Rules of Evidence, they would be deemed admissible. 

The case dealt thoroughly with the standards that must be met before scientific evidence is admitted as evidence in US Federal courts. It had to do with the correlation between the use of Bendectin, an anti-nausea drug, and the cause of birth defects during pregnancy.

 In this case, the scientific evidence was held inadmissible because the technique that led to the discovery by the expert did not have general scientific acceptance.

Don’t get it wrong; legal simulation can be admissible, but with strict adherence to the laid down rules of evidence. 

Note that different states also have rules of evidence to this effect. In the federal rules of evidence, Rule 702 provides the basis of scientific opinion. The rule states that:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in an issue;

(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

The evidence must be relevant and reliable. With the use of computer simulation, the expert and the animator would need to reveal to the court the processes that were followed.

Legal Animation
Photo by Flex Point Security on Unsplash

Legal Animation or Simulation?

The answer to the question lies heavily in the facts of your case.

If there is real evidence and you only need a means to eliminate the technicalities present in the case, you can use legal animation. 

However, if you need additional scientific backing that isn’t already present in real evidence, you may need to use computer simulation. 

If you are still confused about which to use, you should consult with an experienced legal animation company to help you in that regard.

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