Should You Ask for an Amount in Opening?

Paul Luvera discusses a tough issue for Plaintiff’s lawyers: do you clue the jury in during your opening statement as to how much you are going to ask for in closing? I struggle with this and often opt for a middle ground. I lay out the foundation of what I’m going to ask for: medical bills, wages, and the formula I think is appropriate (x per day for the rest of her life). This way, I’m getting them used to the idea without having to spit out a number without any evidence.closingarg

As Paul points out, a one size fits all rule is difficult because each case depends on different facts. One critical question has to be considered: is the cap an issue? If what you have is clearly a cap case and minimal or no economic damages, you can dial back a bit on the damages argument which might help you avoid the risk of losing credibility. Because every time you ask for money – which is what a plaintiffs’ lawyer does by definition – you do lose some measure of credibility with a jury.

One of the issues in this post – raising the damage amount in voir dire – is not of much interest to Maryland personal injury lawyers because our voir dire is so ridiculously limited.

Paul also points out that David Ball feels pretty strongly about putting up a number in opening. Which is reason enough to consider it in every case.

I’m sorry the link back to this blog is broken for some reason.

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