Sometimes, I think personal injury lawyers – myself included – subconsciously think we know better than the client in terms of what damages they have that really matter to a jury. But we often get it wrong. More often than not, what is in the client’s heart will also be what has the most impact on a jury. Paul Luvera offers a tip he picked up in Paris of all places on how to get clients to open up about what their actual injuries are and how to present those injuries to a jury. Going back and checking this blog post in 2017, I see the link is no longer available. But the message is important today as when this blog post was first written.
Early in my career as a plaintiffs’ lawyer, we tried a case where I spent an impressive deal of time preparing the witness to testify. Literally 20 minutes before she testified, she told me in a whisper what really upset her about her injuries. She had lots of nieces, and she went from being the fun aunt to the aunt who always complained of being in pain. That translates okay in this blog post. But you had to be there and listen to the way she told the story. It took me two seconds to realize it was genuine. I brought out the story on direct, and it became one theme of our case, and one reason, the jury told me later; they arrived at the verdict they did.
That translates okay in this blog post. I’m sure you get it. But you had to be there, and you had to listen to the way she told the story. It took me two seconds to realize it was genuine to her. It moved me. I brought out the story on direct and it became one theme of our case and a reason; the jury told me later; they arrived at the verdict they did.
Every professional thinks they know what is best for their clients and they are often right and the client is dead wrong. An exception to that rule is pain and suffering damages where the client typically knows in their heart exactly what damages matter the most.
How do you do this? Spend some time with your client before trial to get to know them as people. You ask them a ton of questions. You do all the little things to understand the science of the injuries and what the medical records say about the client’s injuries.