Client Education

Client Education

We have long held that an educated client is our best possible customer. The more knowledgeable the client is about our areas of expertise, the more they can make use of our assistance in their cases. Dr. Curry has been a popular and highly-rated speaker for many years at local, regional and national educational seminars for such organizations as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), PLRB/LIRB, NBI, and other recipients. Attendees of these seminars have typically been able to obtain either Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or Continuing Legal Education (CLEs) credits. As a benefit to our clients, we offer educational seminars to legal firms at no cost (other than travel-related expenses in the case of out-of-the-area presentations.) These seminars are educational in nature and are not marketing pitches!  

Seminar content is flexible and can be custom-created on the specific topics of interest to your firm or organization by prearrangement. Frequently presented topics that are always available include:

  • Eyewitness Reliability or “Is What They Say Really What They Saw?”: Discusses issues related to human visual and perceptual capabilities/limitations (e.g., why even if an individual is able see something, they may not actively perceive it), as well as factors which influence witness recollections of events during accidents and why “eyewitness” accounts quite often do not match up with scientifically obtained evidence collected after the fact. This presentation has been performed at PLRB/IRRB Annual Meetings for CLE credit in the past on multiple occasions and has been webcast by them nationwide to their members.
  • What is ‘Normal’ Driving–Actual Behavior vs Compliance With the Rules: Oftentimes roadway accident litigation is focused on compliance with statutory regulations regarding driving without consideration of how motorists actually operate their vehicles in the real world. For example, authoritative studies have repeatedly demonstrated both that traveling at the speed of prevailing traffic results in the fewest accidents and that the average speed on American roadways is typically considerably higher than the posted speed limit. Given this, speeding may not or may not represent “negligent” behavior in a particular accident scenario. The presentation focuses on what actual (rather than ideal) driver behavior is, and what the ‘normal range’ of driver capabilities/limitations/behaviors are rather than the simple ‘average’. By definition, 50% of the population is less than ‘average’—this does not make them either abnormal, negligent, or necessarily liable in an accident. This presentation is similar in content to the cover article authored by the presenter that appeared in Professional Safety in 2021.
  • Semantics or “Will the Jury Understand What You Say?”: This presentation covers the topic of semantics and the fact that our word choice frequently may be precise, but only to an audience composed of our peers who have a similar understanding of the terms we use. Familiar terms may have particular meanings when used by different professions. For example, a plaintiff’s attorney will frequently assert or imply that the word ‘safety’ means ‘zero risk’–to an engineer or safety professional, this word means that the risk level has been reduced to an ‘acceptable level’. In a courtroom, use of the same term with widely different meanings can confuse jurors and create highly prejudicial perceptions of a case on their part. This presentation discusses a number of such common terms frequently used in the courtroom without being defined and the effect which this can have on juries. The presentation is similar in content to a feature article authored by the presenter which was published in Professional Safety in 2019.
  • Behavioral Adaptation or “Why ‘Safer’ Products Aren’t Always Safer”:  A frequent claim in many product liability cases is that a given accident would not have occurred if the product design had been changed only slightly (usually by the addition of guarding or some other safety feature).  This presentation focuses on the fact that such assertions largely ignore the empirically demonstrated fact that user behavior normally changes with the addition of safety features, commonly in the direction of increased risk-taking by the user.  This often results in the net effect of additional safety features being either largely or completely negated.  Major psychological theories dealing with this phenomenon (e.g., risk homeostasis and cost-benefit risk analysis on the part of product users) are discussed.
  • The Whys (and Why Nots) of Warnings/Instructions:  This presentation discusses the nature of warnings and instructions, when warnings are/are not appropriate, and how they should/should not be crafted and used.  The presentation also includes discussion regarding factors influencing when warnings and instructions may and may not be effective in terms of influencing user behavior or even being read by product users at all. This presentation parallels articles written by the presenter for DRI’s flagship publication For the Defense.
  • Human Error in Accidents or “Why in the &#$@ did they do THAT!?!”:  This presentation focuses on the nature of different types of user errors and their causes, as well as the difference between genuine mistakes which might lead to accidents and willful poor decision-making on the part of users that lead to catastrophic events.  While the former can often be anticipated or influenced by product design, the latter are almost always beyond the control of the manufacturer/distributor/supplier. The difference between the two is often the key issue in a case.
  • I Fell, Ergo I Slipped—Fact or Fantasy?:  This presentation focuses on the nature of human locomotion and the gait mechanics of normal ambulation and how these relate to the potential for slip, trip and fall accidents.  The presentation goes into the nature of slip resistance testing and measurement and what the results really mean.
  • Driver Distraction—Lots of Smoke, but Is There Really a Fire?:  This presentation focuses on quantitative and qualitative aspects of driver distraction and how it may well be evolving into the norm, rather than an atypical state for vehicle operators.  Heavy emphasis on the actual impact of in-vehicle cell phone conversations (an activity often vilified in the popular press, despite extensive on-road research on detailing a minimal actual effect for conversations versus surfing the internet or texting). The presentation also addressed the potential driver behavioral changes stemming from the incorporation of such technologies as anti-lock brakes, back-up aids, adaptive cruise control, self-driving cars, and other systems being incorporated into vehicles at the current time or in the near future.
  • Accidents and the Baby-Boom Generation:  This talk is an   overview of the changes in human physical, perceptual, and mental capabilities that occur with age.  Emphasis is placed on the fact that performance drops and physical degradations routinely begin occurring much earlier than is commonly appreciated by the general population (often in the late 20’s and early 30’s) and how some “injuries” may or may be more the function of age-related degradation, rather than the result of an accidents or conditions in the accident environment. The presentation also covers issues related to the fact that operator/user behavior typically adapts to mitigate the diminished capabilities of the individual.
  • The Human Element in Accidents:  This talk focuses on the fact that accidents are rarely the function of only a single factor, but rather occur at the intersection of three interacting elements: the machine, the environment, and the user.  Coverage of human physical, sensory, and behavioral capabilities and limitations and how these may contribute to accidents.

We Provide A Clear & Concise Analysis

We present our analyses in a clear, readily understandable form to clients, attorneys, and juries. Our goal is to have decisions regarding the projects and cases we are involved in made based on a thorough understanding of the scientific and technical issues involved, not on appeals to emotion or theory.

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