Detailed Models Help Juries Understand Spine Structure

Spine Structure

Accidents that cause back injuries happen all the time. Whether they involve automobile crashes or perhaps work-related mishaps, these back injuries can be truly debilitating and – sometimes – life altering. That’s why many individuals who suffer back injuries that are the fault of others turn to the courts to seek retribution for their suffering.

Usually, in a court case that involves a plaintiff with a back injury that is the result of someone else’s negligence, medical evidence must be shown, proving the injury and providing an explanation of perhaps why and how the injury occurred. As such, medical experts will often be brought in to testify and explain spine structure and give specifics about injuries. But lawyers will also need to “know their stuff” in order to present a compelling case to the judge and/or jury so that they find in favor of the injured party.

In a 2003 article in the New York Law Journal entitled “Trial Advocacy: The Cross-Examination of the Radiologist in a Soft Tissue Case”, attorneys Ben B. Rubinowitz and Evan Torgan talk about the importance of the MRI in testimony during a soft tissue injury case. They note how the MRI shows not just the bones but also the spinal cord, discs, and nerve roots. Viewing one provides a great lesson on spine structure.

After espousing the importance of the MRI and its use in the trial, the authors encourage fellow attorneys to also demonstrate their “command of the anatomy to gain both the expert and the jury’s respect for your medical knowledge while continuing to educate the jury on anatomy.” 1

They then suggest that the arguing attorney “use demonstrative evidence such as a model of a spinal column and point out the discs, spinal nerves and cord to the doctor and jury.”

“Demonstrate how the discs sit between the vertebral bodies and act as shock absorbers for the spinal column giving us the ability to bend, walk, jump, run and move flexibly. Demonstrate on the model how the discs are numbered by the corresponding vertebral body between which they sit, such as the discs at L1-L2 or L4‐L5.”

The models manufactured by Dynamic Disc Designs (ddd) are ideal for this sort of task to be accomplished in a court of law. Through the use of one of the many lumbar or cervical spine models ddd makes, attorneys can learn all they need to know about spine structure and can walk into that courtroom demonstrating a solid knowledge of not only how the spine works but why their client is suffering. By manipulating one of these 3D fully-dynamic models during testimony, the attorney can demonstrate movement, something you can’t do with an MRI or any other 2-dimensional picture or static model.

Many expert witnesses and personal injury attorneys have been using ddd’s models for quite some time and have found them to be of great use in taking difficult medical jargon and explaining it in a visual way that is easy for the lay person to understand.

“We used one of your spine models on a two-level cervical fusion case during a trial in Denver County District Court in January of this year. We obtained a verdict of over 2 million dollars,” writes attorney Jason W. Jordan. “It was extremely helpful to explain to the jury the nature of the anatomy and the extent of the injuries involved.  My expert used this model during his examination and it was helpful in my verdict, for sure.  Specifically, the model I used has a built in annular tear into a spine model.  As you load the disc with your hands, you can see the nucleus exit the disc and impact the nerves.  Everyone in that courtroom understood the injury at that moment.”


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