Case Study: Attorney Credits Settlement Video for Results that Help a Family Heal after a Devastating Crash
by Geomatrix Productions in Legal Video
At a young age and into her adulthood, Kami Allen didn’t let her disease get her down. Although she was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a brittle bone disorder, she was able to lead an active life, get married and have a career and children.
But on the day of her accident, her life changed in a way that she never imagined.
January 8, 2015 was shaping up to be a perfect day. Kami, her husband Jared and their two young sons Lincoln and Avery were returning home that evening from a Disney on Ice show in Bridgeport, Connecticut when their SUV got a flat tire. Jared pulled over onto the grass along the highway to assess the situation while Kami called for help. It wasn’t long before an 18 wheeler hit the car from behind at full speed. The driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.
The impact of the crash sent the SUV rotating up an embankment, and it sent Kami, who had unbuckled her seatbelt to care for Avery, crashing all over the inside of the vehicle. She landed wedged in the console area.
Jared suffered a broken arm and their boys were OK, but Kami did not fare nearly as well. The accident pushed her already compromised body over the edge. In those terrifying moments, she thought she was going to die.
At the hospital, Kami found out the devastating news. Her neck was broken in four places. She had 15 total fractures, in addition to a traumatic brain injury, brain bleed, nerve damage and multiple other injuries. She was at the risk of being paralyzed. In her words, she was “very, very broken.”
With only 15 fractures in all of her 33 years prior to the accident, and with no fractures in 19 years, Kami’s fracture count doubled in a few seconds.
She underwent four major surgeries, was in a hospital bed for six months, and continues to undergo therapy The accident cost her precious time with her children, leaving her unable to hold and take care of them. She could no longer take care of herself, and Jared became overwhelmed trying to keep up.
Attorney Michael Jainchill of RisCassi & Davis, P.C. in Hartford, Connecticut worked with Geomatrix Productions to produce a settlement video that included compelling interviews with Kami, her family and friends and heart-wrenching photos of her injuries. Most important, it sensitively illustrated the day to day activities that Kami now struggles with, and how her struggles affect the entire family.
“The challenge in this case was to make people understand the severity of Kami’s injuries –how she was functionally different after the accident,” said Atty. Jainchill. “The video put the viewer in Kami’s own home so they could see her struggles for themselves. Kami’s six-year-old son Lincoln trying to help her button his shirt, Kami trying to put a diaper on Avery, Lincoln holding his mother’s hand in her in-home hospital bed—those are the kinds of images that really emphasized how the accident turned all of their lives upside down.”
Attorney Jainchill, who has hired Geomatrix Productions to produce settlement videos for more than thirty years, strongly believes that these videos have the unique ability to make someone on the outside appreciate what the victim is going through.
“When your audience is made up of defense lawyers, insurance claims people and judges who have seen everything in their careers, it takes a lot to get through to them and make an impression. Settlement videos are the most effective way for the decision makers to see and appreciate the impact that these accidents have on the victims, without being filtered through the lens of their prior experiences, as would be the case with a written description.”
The Allen case settled at jury selection. Because of the settlement, Kami and her family were able to move back to Rhode Island and build an accessible home that includes a therapy pool. Jared was able to retire from the police force. Kami’s parents will live with them so they can help the young family rebuild their lives.
According to Attorney Jainchill:
“The settlement has made their lives so much easier.”
Atty. Jainchill added that the professionals at Geomatrix are skilled in conducting interviews that bring out his clients’ best responses. That, along with the creativity Geomatrix brings to the table makes all the difference in the outcome of his cases.
When working on your next wrongful death or injury case, trust Geomatrix Legal Video Services to produce a settlement video that will get you the best results possible for your clients.Read more
by Geomatrix Productions in Legal Video
When representing plaintiffs in a personal injury case, one challenge that can arise is how to illustrate the plaintiffs’ injuries if they are currently not visible. This was the case for the law firm of Walsh Woodard LLC in West Hartford, Connecticut when they represented two young women, cousins and best friends in their twenties, who suffered multiple injuries in a horrific incident in 2015.
After their car became disabled and caught fire while traveling on a bridge, the friends pulled over and exited the vehicle. They were immediately helped by a Good Samaritan who pulled up behind them and extinguished the fire. Shortly afterward, another driver who was exceeding the speed limit crashed into the Good Samaritan’s pickup truck, causing it to pin the women against the guardrail on the bridge. Both women were left with severe injuries and spent months in orthopedic rehabilitation.
Today these strong young women present perfectly fine, and would have walked into the courtroom with no visible injuries. However, each continues to suffer from lasting physical and emotional effects that have been life-altering.
Attorney Michael Walsh turned to Geomatrix Productions to create a settlement video to impress upon the mediator and claims representatives the significance of the plaintiffs’ claim. In addition to poignant and emotional interviews with the plaintiffs and their friends, the video graphically recreated the terrifying chain of events. Attorney Walsh sent the video far in advance to all involved to make sure they had ample opportunity to see these articulate and promising young women up close and personal as they recalled the day that changed their lives forever.
“Geomatrix’s video was instrumental in helping to persuade the mediator and claims representatives to settle at mediation for a good result by illustrating the plantiffs’ underlying injuries in a compassionate and compelling way, as told in their own words,” said Attorney Michael Walsh. “The power of video to dig below the surface of face value first impressions is undeniable. It was a valuable tool to overcome the challenges we had with this case.”
The terms of the settlement remain confidential.Read more
Case Study: Attorneys Show Belief in Clients with Compelling Video that Nets $1.325 Million Settlement
by Geomatrix Productions in Legal Video
A person’s home is supposed to be a safe sanctuary. But when that sanctuary is threatened by an intruder, it may never feel the same again.
In May 2015, five Salem Connecticut residents experienced the trauma of an attempted home invasion perpetrated by a mentally unstable resident of a nearby group home. The resident, who has a violent past, left the home after an argument with a staff member and woke the victims up in the middle of the night, terrorizing them and smashing their windows. One victim fled to a neighbor’s house and in so doing, injured herself in a fall. Later the suspect told police he wanted to kill the homeowners, one of whom was pregnant. Fortunately, no one was attacked in the incident but nevertheless, it left major scars.
Attorney Kara Burgarella of Faulkner & Graves P.C. in New London who represented the victims in their lawsuits against the group home operator said the agency had known of their client’s violent past and should never have allowed him to live there. The lawsuits were filed primarily to create awareness about the need for group homes in residential areas to have proper security measures in place.
Attorney Burgarella and Dale Faulkner, Esq. turned to Geomatrix Productions to create compelling videos that would recreate the evening’s events and express to the mediator and the parties involved not only how they feared for their lives, but how they have been traumatized by the lingering emotional and physical effects of that terrible night.
Attorney Burgarella thinks the videos played a major factor in portraying how the homeowners felt that night, especially one showing the path that one woman took seeking refuge, all from her vantage point.
“It was as if you could feel what she was feeling,” said Burgarella. “The video showed the travel path as she was forced to leave the comfort of her bedroom into the dark night at the 911 operator’s instructions.”
Attorney Burgarella added, “We conducted the video interviews with the plaintiffs within six months of the incident while the feelings were still fragile and the incident fresh in their minds. Two years later, we showed them the videotapes before their depositions. The videos reminded them of the raw emotion they felt at the time.”
According to Cathie Reese who produced the video segments, “It was clear to me in their recounting of the events that the emotions felt that night were still very present. We had to be very discreet in gathering the footage we needed to visualize the story so as not to traumatize them further.”
On November 15, 2017, the case settled for 1.325 million, and was disbursed in unequal amounts among the five victims. Attorneys Burgarella and Faulkner say that the videos were a critical element leading to the success of the settlement.
The mediator, retired judge Michael Riley of Pullman & Comley LLC agreed that the videos were very powerful.
“I think the videos went a long way toward helping to resolve the cases for the plaintiffs,” said Judge Riley. “When there are little to no medicals, it is almost impossible get a clear picture of emotional damages without a video.”
“Our objective was to persuade the insurance company to pay a lot of money, but there were also ancillary benefits to the videotaped interviews,” said Atty. Faulkner. “By recording each client’s experience within a few months of the attack, we were able to cover all the details that might have been forgotten with the passage of time. It was also the first time the victims had been able to fully tell their stories to interested and involved professionals. It showed that someone cared about what they went through.”
And that’s an important message. By investing time and money into video testimonials, lawyers can demonstrate to their clients how much they believe in their cases. And that show of empathy matters when it comes to winning the best settlement possible for your clients.
If you want to win more and win bigger, Geomatrix Legal Video Services will help give you the winning edge.Read more
Multimedia technology has revolutionized the way evidence is presented to judges and juries in the courtroom. But navigating this new landscape of digital trials can be confusing and cumbersome for litigators seeking to win the greatest settlements for their clients. Now, Geomatrix Productions has made this task much easier with the publication of our new white paper, “Litigation in the Software Age”, a comprehensive guide to using tech at trial.
With decades of experience in digital trial consultation, preparation and execution, Geomatrix has amassed trusted and proven information that will help you paint a much clearer picture of your case in the most professional way possible.
“Litigation in the Software Age” includes details on the process and procedures you will need to conduct a seamless and successful digital presentation, beginning with your selection of a production company and trial technician. It is clearly broken down into easy to understand sections including Preparing for Your E-Trial, Video Depositions, Recording Formats, Synchronizing the Video Record with the Written Transcript, Video Depositions at the Trial: Editing for Objections, the Elmo Document Camera and Physical Evidence, Closing Arguments and PowerPoint Presentations, as well as an equipment guide and tips on securing permission for courtroom playback.
We encourage you to download this white paper and share it with your colleagues. The time you invest to read and consult this valuable resource could make all the difference in the outcome of your digital trials.
Use Geomatrix Productions to Tell Your Client’s Story
To learn more about video technology, contact Geomatrix Productions (203.389.0001). We lead the field in the design and execution of affordable, comprehensive settlement programs while continuing to provide premier legal video production and electronic trial presentation services.Read more
by Geomatrix Productions in Legal Video
In May, 2016, a 74-year-old New York man and his wife were driving from New York to Connecticut in anticipation of attending their grandson’s baptism. As they rounded a bend in the road, an SUV driven by a 19-year-old male crossed the center line and struck them head-on. Their car crashed into the guardrails and he died at the scene from massive blunt force trauma. The man’s wife was seriously injured and to date she has undergone at least five surgeries.
The law firm of D’Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC of Watertown, Connecticut, representing the estate of the man, engaged Geomatrix Productions to produce a settlement video in the matter. After interviewing the man’s wife, children, family members and pastor, Geomatrix combined these stories with compelling photos from his life to create a settlement video that was key to winning his family a multi-million dollar settlement, allowing them to move forward with their lives.
According to Attorney Mike D’Amico:
“We recently hired Geomatrix, who we have worked with for decades, to create a settlement video for a tragic wrongful death. Geomatrix was able to powerfully communicate the family bonds and friendships that shaped the decedent’s life, and the music, ministry and motorcycles that he enjoyed so much. The video was instrumental in settling the legal claims for the full liability policy limits of $5.3 million, and in avoiding protracted litigation for his surviving widow and family. Jeremy (Attorney Jeremy D’Amico) and I seldom have a wrongful death case where we do not ask Geomatrix to create a life video. It is a powerful settlement tool.”
Settlement videos can convey the devastation from loss of life in a way no other means can. A well thought-out video testimonial to a lost loved one captures the essence of the decedent’s life. Using photographs and carefully selected interview clips from family and friends, Geomatrix Productions creatively weaves a thread that tells the person’s life story with respect and sensitivity. The video also illustrates what the decedent and their family are now missing due to their tragic wrongful death. These poignant videos can be used at mediation or can be provided to the insurance adjuster and defense counsel.
If you want to win more and win bigger, Geomatrix Legal Video Services will help give you the winning edge.Read more
Jim Bergenn, Esq.
“In a defective highway case, if you are point one percent at fault you recover nothing. Most lawyers won’t take the cases. I took took one particular case where there was a bicyclist whose bike tripped over a pot-hole. He went over the handlebars, and even though he had a helmet he suffered a bad traumatic brain injury. In that particular instance we used a video statement, sort of like a deposition, but it was just me and a witness, and I had him establish that my guy was doing everything perfectly, there’s nothing he could’ve done differently, this was just bad fate, caused by the crevice, caused by the state’s neglect. I had that on video, it was game, set, match, on liability.”
“But we still had to drive value. Though he had a serious brain injury, he did not lose his ability to think. He could express himself, though greatly diminished capacity to express himself physically. He was just like you and I in terms of feelings and cognition, but he was a mess and was going to be for life. In that particular instance we hired Geomatrix, because we knew that we had to convey what the difference was, before and after, in ways other than just a list. They did a very comprehensive study, on video, of his life, with some interviews about his life before, and some powerful video about what his life was after. It was moving, and if you watched it, it was all over. You just weren’t going to touch that anymore, everyone knew that it was almost incalculable, the before and after damage.”
“This video was so powerful that the case settled for several million dollars, where if we were point one percent at fault we get zero.”
– From an interview with Jim Bergenn, Esq. of Shipman & Goodwin, Hartford, CT recorded June 2017
Read more here Shipman & Goodwin
Top attorneys use Geomatrix Productions’ powerful video services to Win More Cases, Win Bigger Verdicts and Win More New Business. Contact us to find out how you can too.Read more
Is it possible that a PowerPoint presentation can make the difference between winning or losing a case? There is scientific evidence to show that PowerPoint can help achieve the desired results.
According to formal studies conducted by Neil Feigenson of Quinnipiac University, and Jaiyhun Park of Baruch College, a well-designed PowerPoint presentation was shown to exert a measurable effect on jurors. Their studies showed that a plaintiff who uses PowerPoint to present statistical evidence caused a mock jury to find the defendant to have greater liability in the case. Moreover, this approach works the other way around if the defendant uses a PowerPoint presentation to rebut the plaintiff.
According to Feigenson and Park, “In general, each party’s use of PowerPoint increased participants’ recall of that party’s evidence, which in turn increased defendant’s judged responsibility (when plaintiffs used PowerPoint) …”
From a scientific perspective, viewing statistical and numerical evidence rather than just hearing it described, has more influence on human perception/cognition. This psychological effect leads to a deeper understanding of the data and, consequently, makes it easier to recall the facts later. It has been found that viewing statistical evidence on a PowerPoint slide causes jurors, and others, to concentrate their attention with greater focus than listening to the same information verbally described.
The Extraordinary Power of Visual Evidence
A skilled personal injury lawyer looks at all evidence to understand every relatable detail that occurred before, during and after his client’s incident. The lawyer knows the client’s life story, visits the scene, and talks with eyewitnesses. However, what about the mediator, the judge, the opposing attorney and, of course, the jury. What is the best way to show them the true story?
As proved in the Feigenson and Park study, individual jurors are impacted more by seeing evidence than by simply hearing it described to them. When it counts, jurors remember the visual evidence, and take that image into the jury room.
Geomatrix Productions PowerPoint Example in Trial
In a recent case in Connecticut, Geomatrix created a PowerPoint presentation for the co-defense attorney for his closing argument. The co-defendant (an insurance company) wanted to convince the jury to award a much lower dollar amount to the plaintiff than being requested by their attorney.
To address the co-defendant’s need, Geomatrix researched and created a PowerPoint presentation with the following components:
- Bullet points for attorney to frame his argument and convey applicable laws
- Photographic images of causation
- Evidential documents that showed relevant facts
- A timeline to display gaps in treatment or how the treatment lines up with the progression of the case
- A specific suggested award amount
The result was an award in the exact amount (see points below) recommended by the co-defendant in his presentation. The plaintiff, who did not use PowerPoint, asked for an award greater than $100,000. The actual award was exactly as presented in the PowerPoint:
- Economic damages = $7,607.54
- Non-economic damages = $7,607.54
Was it the Message or the Messenger?
In the case above, there are two critical elements involved with the media presentation –
- the PowerPoint tool itself
- and the content within the presentation
As noted previously, the PowerPoint tool facilitated the visualization of evidence in such a way that the jurors could better understand the message and recall the facts during their deliberations. However, if the message were not ‘spot on’ with the salient facts, the PowerPoint presentation would not have been effective.
Of the two media elements, the tool and the content, content had more impact on decision-making than the tool. With that in mind, creation of ‘spot on’ content requires the most time and expertise.
With Geomatrix Productions – Show Your Client’s Story
To learn more about video technology, contact Geomatrix Productions. We lead the field in the design and execution of comprehensive digital trial presentations while continuing to provide premier legal video production services.
 Feigenson, Neal and Park, Jaihyun, Effect of a Visual Technology on Mock Juror Decision Making (August 11, 2012). Applied Cognitive Psychology, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2146089Read more
Great lawyers are gifted in two areas:
- their knowledge of the law
- their ability to present and persuade
The rules of evidence dictate how a legal argument is presented in court. However, during pretrial, great lawyers realize they are not as restricted, and can creatively use their gift of persuasion to better represent their clients.
One Lawyer’s use of Video Documentation to Prove Causation and Liability
Recently, attorney Paul Iannaccone, listed in the 2017 edition of Best Lawyers in America, and Partner at RisCassi and Davis, was in a quandary preparing for mediation of a significant personal injury case. The defense had taken a hard stance of ‘no causation nor responsibility’ for the plaintiff’s injuries, pain and suffering.
Initially, Iannaconne reached out to Geomatrix to create a video that would demonstrate causation and damages only, but was concerned this would fall on deaf ears. During discussions with Edgar Smith from Geomatrix, Iannaconne quickly realized video could do much more.
According to Paul Iannaccone:
“What started out as a request to just document the impact of my client’s devastating injuries, became a well-organized and logical video, incorporating witness statements and expert testimony, legal citations and video laying out the entire case from the creation of the defect up through the causation and impact of her injuries on her life. I soon realized that the Geomatrix video could lay out the entire case in under 20 minutes.”
Iannacone created a comprehensive settlement documentary that proved causation, liability, damages and cited critical legal precedents that would undermine the defense position were the case to go to trial.
News Flash: Control the Message Control the Outcome
Since the defendant was self-insured, Iannaccone’s strategy was to send a potent, comprehensive message directly to the defendant, essentially proving responsibility.
Iannaccone summed up the results of his video presentation.
“By sending a video directly to the true decision makers and check-writers, it became evident to them that they could not and would not win the case. Consequently, a favorable settlement was quickly received.”
Like many attorneys, Iannacone initially thought of video in terms of its value as demonstrative evidence. By thinking outside the box, he brought about a swift resolution of the case, avoided the cost and risk of trial and effectively advocated for his client.
Use Geomatrix Productions to Show Your Clients Story
To learn more about video technology, contact Geomatrix Productions (www. http://geomatrixproductions.com/). We lead the field in the design and execution of affordable, comprehensive settlement programs while continuing to provide premier legal video production and electronic trial presentation services.
In the book, Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom, Neal Feigenson describes how the value of visual evidence is significantly impacted by who creates it, how it is made, and how it is presented. His ground-breaking research is of critical importance for personal injury lawyers today because the use of video is expanding exponentially in court cases.
Feel the Pain – See the Truth
Personal injury lawyers regularly face the challenge of helping a jury ‘feel the pain’ of their clients. This is not a new problem. Through the centuries, poets and writers spun fascinating tales to help their readers get a physical sense of someone else’s suffering.
In droves, lawyers are introducing photographic images as demonstrative evidence to help juries ‘see the truth.’ This effort began with hand-drawn pictures and now, with video technology, evolved to include augmented reality. With compelling video documentaries, lawyers introduce ‘day in the life’ videos as admissible evidence to help jurors or insurance companies – ‘feel their client’s pain.’
Feigenson cited a case handled by Attorney Michael Jainchill of the law firm RisCassi and Davis. The matter involved a young mother who suffered severe vision loss.
Jainchill was concerned for his plaintiff’s case because:
“Even though both sides concurred the plaintiff’s vision loss was ‘permanent’ and ‘profound,’ qualifying her as legally blind,” Jainchill said …
“And yet, by looking at her you couldn’t tell that she couldn’t see. She functions well enough to find her way around.”
Jainchill had an idea and reached out to Geomatrix Productions to simulate how his client’s world appears ‘through her eyes.’ Geomatrix used cutting-edge technology to create augmented reality video that let the stakeholders in the case have a realistic peek through his client’s eyes. Everyone who viewed the video had a vicarious authentic experience of the plaintiff’s real damages and the severe visual limitations she struggled with every day.
Revolutionizing the Court Room
A properly produced video can significantly improve an attorney’s success rate while increasing the size of a client’s settlement. Should you worry that you will encounter a rival lawyer using this new technology against you? The chances are good that you will see this powerful demonstrative tool shortly.
Per Nancy S Marker, Professor and Director of the Justice John Paul Steven Jury Center, in her review of Feigenson’s book:
“… trial lawyers need to understand the revolutionary technologies that will become widespread in twenty-first-century jury trials… video simulations enhance testimony so jurors experience the injuries that plaintiffs feel.”
To find out more about this technology, contact Geomatrix Productions. That would be an easy first step to see how video simulation will assist you and your clients, and let future jurors, not only to ‘see the truth’, but ‘feel your clients’ pain.’Read more
In the unfortunate event of a vehicular accident where a pedestrian is killed, it’s unlikely to consider the potential for the deceased to be at any fault. Sadly, in the case of Wagmeister vs. Simmonds, this circumstance did occur. With a difficult case to both illustrate and prove, John Cirello, Esq. turned to Geomatrix Productions to aid him with this task.
Geomatrix Productions’ animator Tom Coben worked to create an accurate visual representation of what transpired the morning of June 28, 2013.
“Wanting to present his entire argument in the form of a video, John provided us with documents that were far too lengthy, complex, and cumbersome for the visual medium. We worked to create a video that presented the story in a visually concise way.” Tom Coben, Animator Geomatrix Productions
Cirello and Coben were able to prove it was a series of bad decisions on the part of both the driver of the disabled truck, and Mr. Wagmeister himself that ultimately led to his death. The video illustrates that had the correct precautions been taken, this sad course of events could have been avoided. Cirello’s use of the visual medium allowed for his total defense to be heard without disruption.
“The opposing attorney had a simple story to tell, but when you delve into the details it becomes clear there were liability issues. If I had attempted to tell the story in writing, people would stop reading. And, if I had attempted to tell the story verbally, I would have been interrupted. A video has the unique ability to draw people in, and allows you to have your entire story heard.” John Cirello, Esq. Cirello & Vesicchio LLC
Cirello, usually arguing for the plaintiff, found himself on the opposite side of the bench in this case. Regardless, he was adamant that the use of video is both economic and essential in proving a point.
“If you are dealing with a case worth over half a million dollars, you would be a fool not to make a video. When you are talking about those types of numbers, it will cost 1% of the overall settlement to produce a video. It makes no difference whether you are arguing for the side of the plaintiff or the defendant, and nothing tells a story better,” said Cirello.
The case of Wagmeister vs. Simmonds shows how video production can be used to accurately recreate events and communicate a comprehensive argument. The economic value complemented by the unique ability to capture and maintain one’s attention, represent the key benefits video production has to offer in a court of law.Read more