Videos Help Recreate Accident Scenes, Encourage Settlement

Every competent personal injury lawyer understands the importance of presenting the facts in a case in a manner that brings the reality of his client's story home to the jury or judge. But long before the case gets to a judge or jury - presumably instead of bringing it to a judge or jury - the presentation in settlement discussions can be equally important.

When a client's story is told effectively and has all the elements of a good story, people, even insurance adjusters, will listen. That's where having a quality settlement video comes into play.

A settlement video can make the struggles of an injured person more vivid, thereby encouraging an insurance company to offer a fair settlement and avoid trial. And nine times out of 10, a settlement video accomplishes its intended purpose; when a case is properly presented, it rarely ends up in a courtroom.

Even the gruffest defense counsel typically stops in his tracks upon viewing a well-crafted settlement video. If the harm suffered by the plaintiff can tug at his heartstrings, he knows what that evidence will do to a jury.

For example, in one highly visible case involving a Ford Explorer whose Firestone tire exploded, the settlement video went so far as to reenact the car crash scene using the 911 tape and photos. The depiction of a bystander's horrified discovery that the 6-year-old girl inside the car did not survive the wreck was so effective that Ford settled the case for a much higher value than even the plaintiff's attorney expected.

In addition to a monetary settlement, though, Ford agreed to ensure that company executives viewed the video so that they saw first-hand the suffering unleashed by their corporate decision-making. Although such terms cannot bring back the two people killed in the crash, witnessing a portrayal of the events may help to ensure that the executives consider the true costs of their choices and ultimately reduce the likelihood of accidents in the future.