Losing

The Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Blog focuses on providing tips and information for personal injury lawyers. Today, I’m using it save me the $200 it would cost to go to a good board certified psychiatrist.

If you read this blog regularly, you will note that I often let our successes slip into this blog, a million dollar settlement here, a million dollar verdict there, and so forth. Oops. Over the last few years, we have had an amazing run. Fantastic settlements and our verdicts have typically been many, many times the offers we had before trial. I could not be prouder of what we have accomplished for our clients.

Yesterday, this run came to a very bitter end in a trial in Prince George’s County that I will never forget. Defendant pulled out from a stop sign and hit our client, a 36 year-old man (with a beautiful wife and three kids), on the favored road. He was on a motorcycle and witnesses claimed he passed some vehicles on the left and the right before the accident on a one lane road (the widest one lane road you will ever see in your life).

He lost his leg in the accident, an above the left knee amputation. You might think this accident destroyed his life and he has been miserable ever since. Hardly. He is one of the happiest, upbeat, and optimistic people I have ever met in my life.

GEICO offered absolutely nothing to settle the case. Zero. So the decision to go to trial was an easy one. I tried the case this week with my partner, Laura Zois, who did an absolutely fantastic job. We knew it was not an easy case but we thought we presented a compelling case to the jury with a compelling client. After a few hours of deliberation, the jury disagreed.

The best part of our job is getting a deserving client an award that will make a meaningful impact on the client’s life. There is nothing like it, at least not in the legal profession. The worst part of the job is having a great client with a great family and getting a result that you think is unfair and just plain wrong. It just feels awful. If you see me on the street in twenty years from now and you ask me about this case, I’ll still be mad about it.

I’m off now to write post-trial motions….

(July 11, 2008 Note: We were granted a new trial in this case and the jury found the Defendant was negligent as a matter of law. New trial is in August, 2008.)

(June 12, 2013 Note: We tried this case four times. No kidding. Two more mistrials. Then we agreed to favorable high/low. Then we lost. I still can’t believe it but when you try a case for a fourth time, you begin to realize anything can happen. Toughest case we have every lost on some level. Great client. Great family. But, still, the client got a recovery from the case and that eased some of the pain.)

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  • Tony

    Everyone loses now and again. Lawyers who don’t ever lose must not try many cases. Imagine if the defense had made an offer and you said no.

    Since the litigation is continuing, I know you can’t say much but what was the defense? Contributory negligence? I know only the facts as you’ve given them, but if the key defense was contrib, I have to say that it took some fortitude on the part of the defense to make no offer and take this to trial, especially against an appealing plaintiff with a catastrophic injury as you’ve described.

  • There is no doubt about it, losing sucks. I have represented aggrieved parties and defended against them. It doesn’t matter which side of the table is yours, it’s not pleasant. The important thing is to learn from the experience.

    One thing that struck me from your description of the case was the driving of the motorcycle. I am by no measure an expert on juries, but I think the average person hates the weaving motorcyclist. When I rode a bike, I never did this. Here in South Florida I have seen any number of folks, mostly on sport bikes, weaving in and out of traffic. That kind of driving makes everyone uncomfortable.

    Of course, this is no reflection on your client, but it may be how the jury perceived the behavior. Perhaps that’s how GEICO tried the case?

  • Mike

    I have a mentor that I speak to occasionally. He always asks me “How many cases did you lose last month?” When I say “none” he is disappointed. His theory is you are not losing cases, you are not trying enough cases. If your offer in the case was zero, even more the reason to learn from the experience and move on and go lose some more!

  • Ron Miller

    Thanks for the comments. We have filed out post trial motion. Defendant’s response is due on August 13, 2006. We will see…

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