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HOW DO I MAXIMIZE JURY COMPREHENSION USING ANIMATION?

It’s widely accepted that visuals in the courtroom are a powerful storytelling device. We prefer to say that they can be powerful.  The actual efficacy of any trial graphic, in fact, hinges on an understanding of how people learn from multimedia presentations.  Our clients often ask us why animations and graphics are so persuasive in the courtroom.  The answer rests in understanding the psychology behind their effectiveness.

Why Are Visuals Effective?

Much of this understanding revolves around the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, developed by renowned University of California, Santa Barbara, psychology professor Dr. Richard Mayer.  Dr. Mayer notes three human cognitive realities that should drive visual design decisions1:

1. Dual channels:  Learners possess separate channels for processing auditory/verbal material and visual/pictorial material.

2. Limited capacity:  Each channel can process a limited amount of material at a time.

3. Generative processing:  Meaningful learning occurs when learners engage in appropriate cognitive processing, such as:

a. Selecting relevant words and pictures for further processing

b. Organizing selected words into a verbal model and organizing selected images into a pictorial model

c. Integrating verbal and pictorial models with each other and with prior knowledge

The main takeaway from these cognitive realities is that improperly designed graphics can overload jurors’ cognitive systems, causing them to become overwhelmed and disengaged.  To ensure this doesn’t happen, the most effective designs are guided by a body of scientifically proven learning principles.  A sampling of these tenets follows.

What Are the Key Visual Learning Principles?

Modes of Representation

Demonstratives should harness three modes of representation: language, picture and movement. Language, both written and spoken, is processed by a juror’s verbal channel. Images, both still and moving, are processed by the pictorial channel. When these modes are used in proper balance (alongside other important design principles), multimedia demonstratives engage the learner’s information processing system appropriately and promote meaningful learning.

Note below an animation demonstrating the repair of a torn ligament. This exhibit utilizes the three modes of representation by providing visuals of the requisite structures, movement of the parts and how they change over time and on-screen text to identify parts and clarify concepts (an oral explanation would also accompany this animation in the courtroom).

For the rest of this article, visit our friends at Litigation Insights

NITA Experts Agree: Jurors Want Lawyers to Show, Not Tell

by Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We have written many times about the fact that scientific studies have shown that nonlawyers (who are the vast majority of jurors) tend to be visual learners, and tend not to be auditory learners or kinesthetic learners –people who learn by experiencing. Lawyers (who are the ones who present facts and tell stories to jurors) tend not to be visual learners and are often drawn from the ranks of auditory or kinesthetic learners.

Of course, this can present an intrinsic problem that we have discussed before. If most lawyers like to tell but not show, and our audience, the jury, prefers to be shown something and not to be told, we may completely fail to connect with our audience.

It’s not just psychologists and other students of human behavior who say so; it’s also people who devote full time to understanding trial advocacy. The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) is a fantastic organization that represents the “gold standard” of trial advocacy. In addition to putting on outstanding CLE programs for newbie and experienced litigators, NITA also publishes many great books from scholars who have thought long and hard about advocacy.

In a famous NITA publication, Modern Trial Advocacy, author Steven Lubet connects the obvious aspects of our daily lives with what we should be doing in the courtroom. He writes: “We are used to receiving our visual information from a screen . . . Why would any trial lawyer not want to provide jurors with the same graphic quality and medium that they experience in most other aspects of their lives?” Flip charts are fine, but carefully crafted litigation graphics might be better.

For the rest of this article visit our friends at The Litigation Consulting Report

 

Are You Having Trouble Receiving Child Support?

Raising a child on your own is tough enough even without having to deal with delinquent child support payments. Working, taking care of the home, doing all or the majority of the child raising, and everything else that comes with caring for a young one is no easy task. When the non-custodial parent refuses to pay or constantly misses child support orders, it only adds stress and headache to what is more than a full-time job. If you are dealing with back owed child support, contact an experienced Arkansas child support attorney with the Bassett Law Firm today for help.

Unpaid Child Support is Not Forgiven

In the state of Arkansas, child support must be paid in full and on time. Additionally, late payments are not forgiven or forgotten, even years later when the child turns 18 years old, according to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. While it is possible for an individual to have current child support payments reduced, they cannot have past owed allotments reduced or forgiven. If you are owed any amount of delinquent or back paid child support, contact an attorney at once to take legal action against the responsible party.

Enforcement

Sadly, delinquent payments are common when it comes to child support. Many non-custodial parents only pay a fraction of what they owe their child and the custodial parent. Thankfully, there is help. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) enforces child support court orders in Arkansas. If a non-custodial parent refuses to make timely and full payments, they may be subject to:

  • Passport denial
  • Having federal and state tax refunds withheld
  • Having a portion of their paycheck withheld (called wage garnishing)
  • Having their workers’ compensation withheld
  • Having their occupational, business, or professional license suspended
  • Having their driver’s license suspended (personal and/or commercial)
  • Having a lien put on their property
  • More

Contact an Experienced Arkansas Child Support Enforcement Attorney Today

The first step to take in order to receive the child support that you are owed from a Divorce is to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will work with you and the OCSE to find the fastest and most efficient solution, whether that is wage garnishment or putting a lien on the delinquent payers property. For immediate assistance, contact or call one of our child support attorneys at the law offices of Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996.

It is More Dangerous than Ever to Travel by Foot in Missouri

When a multi-ton vehicle strikes a person on foot, the injuries that face the pedestrian often range from serious to horrendous. Nearly all of us are pedestrians at some point, and we have all had close calls with impatient or distracted drivers. If you were hit by a car or truck, it is in your best interest to seek legal assistance at once. Our attorneys are prepared to provide you with immediate assistance in your case.

The Perils of Traveling by Foot

Sadly, walking has become one of the most dangerous forms of transportation due to a variety of reasons. Drivers are more distracted than ever, are in a rush, and generally have a mindset that non occupant road users (such as pedestrians and cyclists) do not have an equal right to the road. While total U.S. pedestrian fatalities rose by 10 percent in 2015, Missouri took an even larger hit. In 2015, 43 people were killed on Missouri roads, compared to 23 the year prior. This represents a 79 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2014 to 2015, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA). To be sure, it is incredibly unfortunate that walking is becoming more and more dangerous.

Where and When are Pedestrians Being Hit?

The majority of pedestrian collisions occur on roads with speed limits between 30 and 40 miles per hour, according to data compiled by the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation. Seventy-two percent of fatalities occur in the dark, while 24 percent occur in the daylight, two percent occur at dusk, and two percent occur at dawn, according to the GSHA. In addition to distracted and impatient drivers, pedestrians are at a disadvantage when it comes to street designs. Most U.S. and Missouri cities are entirely designed around allowing motor vehicles to travel as fast as possible.

We Are Here To Help

A lack of pedestrian infrastructure, dangerously fast surface street speed limits, slap on the wrist penalties for negligent drivers and inadequate enforcement by police all add up to unsafe cities for pedestrians. However, if you have been hit and injured as a pedestrian, you can take legal action against the negligent driver and hold them financially accountable for their actions. You should not be stuck with large medical bills and other expenses. Contact or call the experienced pedestrian accident attorneys of Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996 to find out how we can assist you in receiving financial compensation for your injuries. We are eager to help you throughout each step of your personal injury case.

Four Common Reasons Why Honest Workers’ Compensation Claims Get Denied

The first goal of your employer’s insurance company is to make a large profit. Regardless of whether the insurance company believes your case or not, it is in their best financial interest to deny your claim. It costs little to deny you time and time again, which is why hiring an attorney is often the only way to ever receive any benefits at all.

Do you have questions about a recent workers’ compensation denial? Four common reasons why legitimate claims are denied are as follows:

  • The insurance company claims that the injury was entirely pre-existing, or that the new injury that occurred on the job was only caused because of a pre-existing injury.
  • The injury was not reported immediately the day it happened. While many injuries, such as repetitive motion injuries, occur over a long period of time, some employers and insurance companies get it in their minds that if an injury occurred, the first thing an employee would do is report it. This is often not the case. Many employees simply limp their way home or to the emergency room and do not report the injury until days or weeks later. Arkansas statute 11-9-529 gives Arkansas workers 10 days to report an injury to their employer.
  • There were no witnesses to the injury
  • The workplace accident report is not confirmed by the medical record. In fact, any minor paperwork error can present itself as a great excuse for an insurance company to deny a claim.

Workers’ Compensation is Under Attack Across the U.S.

Workers’ compensation is becoming increasingly difficult to receive. Seriously injured workers are denied everyday across the U.S. due to state reforms pushed by big business and insurance companies, both claiming that premiums and costs are rising out of control. In fact, according to ProPublica, employers are now paying their lowest premiums since the 1970s and insurance companies have been seeing their highest profits in decades. These reforms hurt everyday workers and the economy as a whole, making it harder for injured people to get back into the workforce.

Contact an Attorney at Once

If you have been denied workers’ compensation, contact an experienced attorney at once. In fact, we highly recommend contacting an attorney before you file for workers’ compensation. Because the rate of denial is so high, your chances of receiving benefits or the benefits that you deserve, are very low without the aid of an attorney at your side. Contact the experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys at Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996.

Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation

A new law regarding Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system went into effect in February of 2014, and since then the workers’ compensation services provided to injured Oklahoma workers has fallen dramatically, according to the Insurance Journal. Oklahoma legislature claimed that the new regulations would be a cost-effective way to improve the health outcomes of injured workers while keeping insurance costs lower for employers. Now, almost three years after the regulations have taken hold, courts are disagreeing with the legislation on the grounds that large portions of the law are unconstitutional.

Cutting Costs for Employers While Cutting Benefits for Injured Workers

The new law, passed by Republican state legislation, changed the workers’ compensation system by moving from an adversarial court system to an administration. Not only are there dozens of challenges to the unconstitutional and downright invalid provisions, but despite the insurance costs for employers decreasing somewhat, it is still high compared to many other states with similar benefit levels.

Oklahoma Among Worst States for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Before the new law went into effect, Oklahoma was already ranked 48th worst in terms of workers’ compensation costs per covered wages of $100. In the two years leading up to the new regulations, Oklahoma’s benefits-paid declined more than any state. Families all across the state are struggling because of the new law. The maximum weekly death benefit, for example, is $589.33 for a spouse without children or any dependants, according to Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission. Workers’ compensation benefits for permanent partial disability is set at 70 percent of the employee’s wage, capped at $323 a week.

Stan Spence, a chemical plant operator, is one of the many who has suffered significantly by the benefit cuts enacted by state legislation. After losing partial sight and suffering serious face injuries due to a carbon dioxide compressor explosion, his benefits were $1,200 a week. Now, after the laws have changed, he receives just $571 a week (the maximum), is in debt and struggling to pay the bills, and will lose even those benefits before he recovers from his next surgery.

We Are Here to Help

With the state’s workers’ compensation benefits being slashed, workers who have suffered injuries need to be awarded the maximum now more than ever. If you were injured on the job, Contact the Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996 to talk to one of our experienced Oklahoma workers’ compensation attorneys.

Medical Malpractice: Economic and Non-Economic Damages

On October 13, 2016 the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Issue 4 on the ballots this year will not be counted. Issue 4 presented amendments to Arkansas’ medical injury lawsuit law. It may still appear on printed and absentee ballots because they have already been printed in advance of the elections. The court ruling determined that Issue 4, which used the term “non-economic damages,” was too technical and therefore voters would be left guessing about what their vote meant unless they were familiar with the legal term. While you will no longer be required to vote on the matter, we still want you to be informed about economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages go to pay the bills inflicted on the injured person. For medical malpractice, the damages essentially go back into the medical system which injured the individual in the first place. Economic damages also cover the costs of lost wages and future wages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are sometimes referred to as the money awarded for “pain-and-suffering” from a injury. This money is paid based on the extent that the individual’s injuries impacted their quality-of-life. A person harmed in a medical malpractice case is no longer able to enjoy their typical activities, the injuries may impact their relationships, and they may have mental anxiety as a result. These are all accounted for when a court determines the dollar amount of non-economic damages in a case. This is a subjective number and some states have enacted caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

Having maximum dollar amounts that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits is a highly contested issue throughout the United States. Several states already have caps although the actual amounts vary significantly. California law has a cap of $250,000 while eight other state Supreme Courts determined that such caps are unconstitutional. It is highly likely that Issue 4 will reappear in Arkansas in the future with a well-worded explanation of what non-economic damages are so that Arkansas residents can make an informed decision on their vote.

We Are Here to Help

As lawyers who handle medical malpractice cases, our job is to get you the best outcome after a medical injury. Damages can be tough to assess but we are here to help you estimate the worth of your case, for both economic and non-economic damages. The numbers are subjective so it is critical to have someone advocating for you and someone who understands the legal precedent for cases similar to yours. Contact the Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996 if you have suffered an injury due to medical malpractice.

Arkansas Cell Phone Laws While Driving

The rate of fatal car accidents over the last year does not coincide with the increased mileage Americans are putting in. Something else is causing these fatal collisions. Moreover, as safety features advance, serious injuries and fatalities from car collisions should actually decrease. Unfortunately, the problem likely lies with the nation’s driving behavior. The increased use of cell phones behind the wheel is causing unknown numbers of traumatic and fatal motor vehicle collisions, and the problem may only be growing worse.

Cell Phone Users Cause Millions of Crashes Every Year

Drivers who talk on the phone, text, send emails, browse the internet, or take pictures are killing thousands of people each year. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than a quarter (27 percent) of all motor vehicle collisions are caused by drivers using cell phones. To put that in numbers, 1.2 million crashes are caused by drivers who talk on hands and hands-free phones, while 341,000 crashes are caused by drivers who text, and those figures, of the latest large-scale study by the NSC, are from 2013. The roads have only gotten more dangerous in the past few years.

Texting is Banned in Arkansas

No driver of any age can legally text when they are driving, whether they are stopped at a stop light or driving down the freeway at 60 miles per hour. Texting and driving is a primary offense law, which means that law enforcement can pull over a texting driver for no other reason than that they were texting, and carries a $100 fine, according to the Arkansas State Police. If texting were a secondary offense, law enforcement would only be able to site and pull over that driver if they had violated a primary offense, such as speeding or swerving. Exemption to the texting law is when a driver can prove that they needed to text law enforcement.

Handheld Phones Banned for Drivers Under 20

While all driver under the age of 18 are banned from all cell phone use while driving, those aged 18 to 20 are only banned from handheld phones. This age group is legally allowed to talk on the phone via a hands-free device. All bus drivers, regardless of age, are also banned from any cell phone use.

We Are Here to Help

If you were injured by a driver who was distracted by their cell phone or other electronic device, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit because of their negligent behavior. Drivers are strictly held to their duty of care for one another, and when that duty of care is violated by a careless or reckless act, causing injury or death to another, they will be held accountable. Contact an experienced car accident attorney with the Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996 to discuss your legal options today.

State Ballot Issues In Arkansas

With the upcoming election right around the corner, it is important to know the key issues that surround our region, and especially, our state. We must know what issues are up for vote as well as the key subjects that need extra attention before our choice is made. 

Below is a direct link from the University of Arkansas Research and Extension department with some basic information about what will be on the ballot. The link also has summaries that were written and reviewed by attorneys, issue supporters and opponents, and experts according to specific issues. Please take the time to review the issues and become an educated voter before turning in your ballot. 

For Voting Information Click Here 

 

Allegations of Georgia Pacific Plant Poisoning Arkansas Residents

A Georgia Pacific paper mill, a company owned by the Koch brothers, has recently come under fire for poisoning the residents of Crossett, Arkansas for more than two decades, according to Newsweek. The mill first came to the town, now of 5,200 residents, back in the 1930s and has played a major role in employment ever since, and has changed ownership multiple times. It was not until the 1990s that residents began complaining of the toxic fumes and waste water that the plant was omitted. Residents began falling ill with respiratory conditions, the air conditioning units and copper wiring of their homes began to face extreme rates of corrosion, and the residents began staying inside as much as possible. The deadly substance included in the 1.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals, that the plant omits each year, come in the form of formaldehyde, dioxin, acetaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, and chloroform. These chemicals permeate the air, soil, and water, polluting everything in the area and downstream of the mill and are known carcinogens.

Alarming Cancer Rates

In just 15 homes located less than one mile from the plant, there have been 11 fatalities all caused by cancer. A study performed by the Arkansas Department of Health found that the city drinking water did not pose a health threat to residents, while an air quality study is currently still pending. However, many homes make use of well water, particularly on the streets nearest to the mill. Despite the high number of fatalities on the streets closest to the mill, the county, not the city itself, does not have a higher rate of cancer than the rest of Arkansas, according to a study done by the state.

Georgia-Pacific Goes Door to Door

Back in the 1990s, Georgia-Pacific went door to door, asking residents to sign releases that absolved the company from any health or property damage in exchange for lump sums of money. There has not been a whistleblower lawsuit, though there have been documentaries in which former employees have come out to tell their side of the story and what they were allegedly asked to do in terms of illegally dumping waste product and keeping quiet about air pollution measurements, as reported in the New Yorker.

We Are Here To Help

If you have knowledge of your company’s wrongdoing in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules and regulations, contact an experienced attorney with The Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996. Our environmental litigation attorneys are eager to help hold corporations liable for any harm they cause to area residents.