Steve’s topic will be what motivates and what cools juries in car accident injury lawsuits during this American Association for Justice legal seminar
Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting during a national American Association for Justice (AAJ) Webinar on “Proving Damages in Motor Vehicle Cases” from 2-3:30 p.m.
During this webinar, sponsored by AAJ’s Motor Vehicle Accident Litigation Group, I will discuss the strategies and tactics that can help lawyers win automobile accident cases and recover better trial verdicts and settlements for their clients. Topics include methods attorneys can use in direct examination, cross-examination of the Defendant’s fact witnesses, compensatory damages, and the best ways to use lay witnesses to prove damages. For more information or to register for the event, click here.
I believe every trial today is a trial about values. The trial starts with a car or a truck accident, but it really is about values. It’s about a loss and a harm that was caused, and asking juries who should bear that loss. Should the weight of these harms and losses fall on the accident victim, or should the person who caused these harms and losses be the one to pay?
It’s showing the jury who is taking responsibility and who’s avoiding responsibility. It’s about contrasting the values of the Plaintiff with those of the Defendant. It’s about how the Plaintiff is doing everything he can to get better and how the defense is doing everything they can to avoid being held accountable for the losses and harms they’ve caused.
It’s contrasting the Plaintiff, who never misses doctor appointments and who’s making every effort he can to get better and return to work, with the defendant who was talking on his cell phone or texting, and who just sat there in his car after the crash and never called 911 for help and never checked on the Plaintiff.
It’s about the values the Plaintiff demonstrates as he makes a sincere effort to treat his injuries and get on with his life; and being aware of the “values” the defense demonstrates to a jury in attempting to avoid being held accountable, such as using notorious, biased defense medical examiners to say there’s “nothing wrong” with the plaintiff.
Trials are about showing how the Plaintiff is worthy of help – how he or she is someone who does not complain and who has not given up – and contrasting this with the ugly stereotypes of accident victims as malingerers with soft neck braces asking for too much money.
It’s about the values the Plaintiff has demonstrated throughout his life, values that make him likeable, credible and worthy of help from a jury — and using those values to inoculate the Plaintiff from defense attacks on his credibility and integrity when the same notorious defense doctors accuse the Plaintiff of exaggeration and secondary gain – all so the insurance company can try to save money and avoid paying out on a legitimate claim.
Truly effective trial preparation requires hours of really getting to know your Plaintiff client and his life story. This cannot be done the day before or the weekend before trial in any personal injury case. It’s an investment of hours by the attorney, but it is also the most important investment that a plaintiff attorney can make to increase the odds of a truly significant injury settlement or trial verdict in any auto accident case.
The American Association for Justice is the nation’s largest association of advocates serving the needs of personal injury victims, with more than 50,000 lawyer members. I’m an Executive Board Member and will be Chair-elect of the AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Group, and a Past-President of the AAJ Truck Accident Litigation Group.