The February 2016 issue of Plaintiff, described how to deal with personal injury claims involving soft tissue injuries.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys usually try to settle low impact personal injury cases because they do not have the resources to go to trial. When they do go to trial, insurance companies are usually armed with experts who detail the physical evidence to the defendants’ favor.
To maximize recovery for a plaintiff, the trial lawyer needs to be credible with the jury when a plaintiff may not have visible injuries or extensive medical records. One way to do this is for an attorney for a plaintiff to ask the jury about the potential negative aspects of the case to find out a prospective juror’s bias or prejudice.
Ask the jury about the issues in a defense’s strongest arguments, including treatment gaps, pain fluctuations, lack of emergency treatment, and pre-existing conditions. For instance, ask the jury if they feel someone can really be hurt if the person does not take an ambulance to the hospital after an accident, but instead, sees a primary care physician a week after the accident.
In response, jurors may share a personal experience and relate to the plaintiff. Do not argue with the jurors. Invite them to speak their minds. Ask a prospective juror for the commitment to apply the law as instructed, such as the burden of proof. Be honest about the weaknesses in a case. Explain away the defendant’s strong points. For instance, skyrocketing medical costs may be a reason for a plaintiff to not to seek prescribed treatment.
Have a medical expert explain that personal injury damage photos, as with property damage images, are not diagnostic tools for treating patients. Use expert witnesses to explain medical records on direct examination. Use medical bill summaries instead of actual bills to exclude irrelevant and prejudicial information. The defense has the burden of trying to admit into evidence medical records with hearsay statements.
Help the jury understand the consequences of a verdict in a routine accident by explaining how decisions in routine cases end up setting a standard for reasonableness in the community on a person’s health.
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