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The Impact of Graphic Injury Photographs on Liability Verdicts and Non-Economic Damage Awards



Practical Implications of Injury Photographs in Civil Litigation

The results from the present study indicate that injury photographs can and do have an improper effect on liability verdicts. Further, these photographs, which are ostensibly provided to assist in the assessment of damages, actually strengthen a somewhat weak plaintiff case. From a practical perspective, these findings have important implications. While injury photographs may be relevant for assessing damages, they also appear to spill over and contaminate questions on liability.

Research participants also improperly used photos proffered by the defense to determine liability. This finding suggests that the defendant may be able to mitigate the effects of graphic injury photos by offering photographs of its own. However, the improper use of counter photos does not justify or downplay the dangers posed by jurors using damages evidence to evaluate liability. Further, the post-surgery images submitted by the defense in this study illustrated a dramatic improvement in the plaintiff's condition. Such strong visual evidence is not always readily available to the defendant. Therefore, the defense may not be able to overcome the prejudicial impact that vivid injury photographs have on liability.

The results also suggest that plaintiff injury photographs have a significant, albeit proper, effect on non-economic damage awards. In contrast, defense photographs do not have an attenuating effect. This finding puts plaintiff counsel at a distinct advantage during the damages phase.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. A Study of Impacts in a Product Liability Lawsuit
  3. 3. The Influence of Photographs On Juror Verdicts
  4. 4. Practical Implications of Injury Photographs in Civil Litigation
  5. 5. Legal Remedies
  6. 6. References