scene diagram

We know that Arbitrators truly endorse Demonstrative Proofs; some surveys say 87% of them believe it aids them in arriving at the appropriate Award. So when it comes to  Scene Diagrams; theory tells us absolutely an advocate should include them if they fit the fact pattern of the loss.

Practice tells us that’s fine, but what do I really need to show the Arbitrator and what is my ‘end-game’ with its use. One item is paramount…and that is that you would like your Scene Diagram to be the one that the Arbitrator ‘relies’ on more than any other in the case.  That includes any Scene Diagram that may be on the Police Report or a scene depiction any other party offers.  So what does ‘rely’ mean?

Your Scene Diagram needs to be aesthetically pleasing; it needs to be easy to look at with the information quickly discernable.  Read: you don’t want the Arbitrator to move on to some other Scene Diagram to understand what really happened. It needs to be properly labeled; with directions of travel, street names, traffic signals and vehicles clearly marked for who they are in the case. If your Scene Diagram differs from that on the Police Report; you need to indicate how in your Contentions and highlight or use directive arrows on your Diagram to illuminate the points of differentiation. The nice thing is you get to ‘paint the picture’; hopefully one the Arbitrator depends on. And while the Scene Diagram you construct of and by itself does not ‘prove’ anything … the more you can gain the Arbitrator’s attention on your Evidence the better. Lastly, always think of answering this question in drafting your Contentions and offering the Scene Diagram: Included in our Evidence Package is a Scene Diagram which is intended to show ‘x’ ?

Answer this in assisting the Arbitrator with your scene.


Case Presentation 101 is produced by Claims Resource Services; one of the nations top arbitration and subrogation services firms.  The writer Kevin Pike can be reached at kpike@claimsresource.comand has daily tips on arbitration via Twitter: @Arb2Win