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Reptile Theory: Using Evolution To Manipulate Jurors


Insurance companies coined a wonderful term called “reptile theory” to explain why personal injury lawyers were consistently crushing them in court to the tune of seven-figure and higher settlements. Because they are civil defense attorneys and their brains are wired to consider things only in favor of their clients, they think we’re hacking the jury’s brain by deep diving into the “reptile” centers that predate mammalian evolution.

To understand this theory, you have to understand evolutionary approaches to studying the brain. Much like archeology, we assume that the deeper you go (the closer to the brainstem you go) the more primitive our brains become. By hacking into the notion that the defendant isn’t just a threat to our client, but also everyone else who has ever taken the road, we make juries fear for their own lives and seek to rouse their anger against the defendant.

While we admittedly do use the jury’s emotions to benefit our client, the brain stem is not the seat of emotions. That evolved alongside mammals much later. If you ever see a jury fly out of the jury box and begin kicking and punching the defendant or, alternatively, fleeing the courtroom in fear of immediate danger, then you can probably blame us for reptile brain hacking.

The theory behind reptile theory 

Essentially, juries are wired to focus on threats, especially in a courtroom. The side that successfully leverages threats better usually wins. What does this have to do with the law? Nothing. That’s why it’s less useful than insurance lawyers are making it out to be.

Essentially, in order to believe in reptile theory, you must also believe that human individuals are passive receptors of information and do not critically engage with information in any active way. They merely absorb it. Perhaps, that most of all is why insurance litigators are losing these lawsuits with such large verdicts. They believe that once a personal injury vilifies their client, there is nothing they can do to overcome that. Since individuals passively receive information that they do not critically analyze, you, the personal injury attorney, have the ultimate power to manipulate jurors into bad settlements.

In truth, most jurors are predisposed to assume that the plaintiff is responsible for their own actions. This is why one of the best civil defense strategies, the most tried-and-true method, is to blame the plaintiffs for their injuries. In other words, civil defense attorneys turn the reptile theory against our clients to prove that their own client was not responsible. In fact, this strategy is even used in sexual assault lawsuits.

In other words, all attorneys will employ reptile theory and there is no magic hacking method that forces jurors to return settlements of more than $10 million. That number is reached in concert with the trial, the trial judge, rules regarding civil judgments, and of course, the law itself. The majority of these verdicts include punitive damages for repeat offenses.

But yes, civil defense authorities tend to think very lowly of juries, and that, ultimately, is what reptile theory implies.

Talk to a Florida Truck Accident Attorney Today

 If you’ve been injured in a Florida truck accident, don’t listen to lobby groups whining about how their clients are treated unfairly in court. If these companies had focused on driver training and safety, they wouldn’t be in court at all. Call the Coral Gables tire defect lawyers at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.



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