The Four E’s of Litigation Timelines

Today, it’s almost impossible to conduct a trial (jury or bench) without the use of some demonstrative evidence or trial presentation.  Some attorneys choose to work solely with hard-board demonstratives, while others will choose to add the use of trial technology to accompany the tangible presentation.  Regardless of the approach, it is hard to find a cause of action or defense, wherein a timeline of events does not fit well with the parties’ positions.  And these demonstratives go a long way – engaging the audience while presenting, and remaining memorable during deliberation.

Establish A Pertinent Chain of Events

Timelines are an easy way for an attorney to portray the events that took place in any given matter.  Attorneys already have the case-facts, and when those facts are simply listed out on paper, in a chronological order, a timeline of events is organically developed.  Once the list is established, the legal team can label each event by similar category, for instance; injuries, treatments, construction milestones, phases of work, breaches of K, and more.  These categories can eventually be color-coded or alternatively emphasized to catch the eye of the audience and allow for a more effective presentation.

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Engage a Trial Technology Vendor

Now that a chronological chain of events, with category-depiction, has been created, the legal team will want to work with a trial technology & graphics’ vendor to polish-up the raw timeline.  Here, a graphics’ team will use presentation software, work with the attorneys and paraprofessionals, and create a timeline that flows with the arguments.  Some timelines will color-coordinate the categories and be presented all at once, while other timelines will add features like; scrolling, layers of events, and hyperlinking to evidence, to add some appeal.  Some attorneys will choose to create static demonstrative boards from the most important events of the timeline, to add a bit more emphasis on certain dates.

Exhaustive Coverage of Law

Timelines can be used to proffer arguments in all areas of law.  Litigators simply need to create a list of events, and leave the art to the graphics’ team.  Here are some typical areas of law, and ways, wherein timelines are used:

  • Employment
    – Events of hire, agreements, breaches, punishments, termination, etc.
  • Medical Malpractice
    – Events of injuries, doctor visits, treatments, notices, damages, etc.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
    – Events of driving, accident location, treatments, injuries, etc.
  • Construction
    – Events of agreements, milestones, phases, delays, damages, remedial measures, etc.
  • Premises Liability
    – Events of nuisances, failures to warn, installations, accidents, repairs & maintenance, injuries, treatments, etc.
  • Wills & Estates
    – Events of wills & codicils, promises, transfers, undue influence, distributions, etc.

No matter what the cause of action, every case has chronological events that lead up to a complaint and defenses to same.

Effective Presentation

When it comes down to what the jury, judge and/or mediator will retain, a polished, presented timeline is what they will remember and discuss during deliberation.

According to the Visual Teaching Alliance:

  • The brain can see images that last for just 13 milliseconds
  • Our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text
  • 40% of nerve fibers are linked to the retina

Litigation Support NJ

Presenting an effective position at trial or mediation is an investment worth making. Taking the time and the money to hire a litigation support team will only help to ensure the best outcome for whatever trial you are up against. Whether it’s electronic or hard-copy boards, demonstrative timelines and evidence can make the difference between winning and losing a case. It’s about connecting with your audience and showing your most confident, prepared arguments. For trial support or any other litigation support service, contact us on our website or by phone for a free consultation.

James Cortopassi
James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi brings nearly 20 years of eDiscovery experience to his practice as a leader in litigation support and eDiscovery coordination. Mr. Cortopassi has managed thousands of cases involving forensic collections, data processing & hosted solutions, managed document review, ESI productions, trial technology services, and workflow-innovation. Mr. Cortopassi is a member of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS).

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