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Personal Injury – Case Process

A good Personal injury Lawyer case is a culmination of various parts. These components start from the very beginning. Any person engaging in personal injury litigation must realize that juries in the current climate are not charitable institutions. They do not give away money needlessly or easily. This is in part of the current and recent economic times and has been influenced by insurance industry lobbying and ballot initiatives. The insurance industry has gone to great lengths to show property damage photographs of cars in an action to clearly imply that with minimal damage to the vehicle, the likelihood of injury is miniscule, if nonexistent. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Personal injury

Personal injury

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We have all seen the invention of Newton’s cradle. This is a strand of balls when one is hit it transfers the energy to the other balls and makes all of the balls move. Plaintiffs will use this argument in Personal Injury litigation. Defendants will parade biomechanical engineers to show that low speed impacts are not capable of causing injury. However, what this does not take into account is that we are all different in terms of age, health, physical condition, genetic predispositions, etc. Nonetheless, juries come to the table with all of their life experiences and prejudices. If they believe the defendant engineer, they will award nothing or nearly nothing to a plaintiff.

A second major component is the plaintiff themselves. What kind of physical impression do they make? Good looking and good sounding people get better results from juries. Plaintiff lawyers are continually reminded at education seminars that they must “carefully screen” their clients. The background of a client is also of major importance. Convicted felons may prejudice a jury and make them skeptical of the validity of their claims. If the felony was in the distant past, the plaintiff lawyers will file motion in limine (a pretrial motion to bar the defense from mentioning the felony to the jury). The type of felony also plays into this consideration along with how far back in time the felony was. The farther back in time, the less relevant it may be to the present case. However, this is determined on a case by case basis.

Once the lawyers determine they will take on the plaintiff as a client, they must evaluate liability. What did the defendant do, or fail to do, that caused plaintiff to get hurt? Plaintiff will need to investigate the claim, retain experts to support their position and search for witnesses. Independent witnesses are the best as they do not care which side wins the case. Experts may have to reason backwards to determine how the accident happened. There are many experts who can aid the lawyers in this endeavor. They include accident reconstruction experts, engineers, biomechanical engineers, human factor experts, and a host of other experts depending on the issues in the case. To no surprise, experts can become very pricey. Therefore, the lawyer must ascertain if the recovery potential of the case is warranted by the expenditure of experts. Most personal injury cases are taken on a contingency basis. This means that if the plaintiff does not win the case, there is no recovery and the attorney has expended thousands of dollars on experts and will lose his/her expenditure of these funds.

The nature and extent of the injuries is also a factor in any Personal Injury case. There are many specialties in medicine. orthopedists, neurologist, psychiatrists, psychologists, neuropsychologists, and various others on a case related basis. Not surprisingly, these experts are very pricey as well. The types of doctors and the reputation of the doctors also comes into play. How does the doctor testify? Is the doctor used by one side of the case exclusively (either plaintiff or defense) or do they work for both sides? What are the injuries of plaintiff? Will plaintiff continue to have physical problems in the future? Will the plaintiff not be able to return to work? What are the future medical expenses? What about future loss of earnings and future loss of earning capacity?

Where is the case venued? This means where is the case set to be tried. What is the reputation of jurors in the area? Some areas are more liberal, some more conservative. Who is the trial judge? Some judges are pro plaintiff, some pro defense. Does the judge limit voir dire (how long the lawyers can question the jury)? Can the lawyer or should the lawyer challenge the judge? Most civil cases work to settle. The question is how and when settlement should be discussed.

Work Injury

Work Injury

The current method of settlement (assuming the parties cannot agree amongst themselves) is by mediation. Retired judges and professional mediators make good money doing this. The parties agree upon a mediator and present their case to the mediator. The mediator then tries to work with the parties to broker a settlement of the case. The mediation make take one session or several sessions. Most mediators bill by the hour. This has led some to question if there are two system of justice, one for those who cannot afford mediation, and one for those who can. Mediators build up a reputation that one or both sides to personal injury litigation can trust them.

If a case cannot resolve through mediation, trial then looms. Trial is a mass of expenses starting with jury fees, expert depositions, expert trial payments, etc. Trial is the ultimate crapshoot. You are dealing with 12 people deciding your fate. These people do not know you, do not care about you, and do not want to be part of the jury process. The plaintiff needs to have a compelling reason why this case is being tried. If they do not have such a reason, the jury may take it out on the plaintiff or their lawyer by a low award. Some cases need to be tried either because of a liability dispute, the seriousness of the injuries, or the parties’ intransigence.

The policy limits available to resolve a case are also a major consideration. Major injuries and limited insurance will force the parties early on to try to resolve the case quickly. If there is a large amount of insurance, this will be a factor that the parties will use to either deny the case or delay the case. The age of the plaintiff also comes into play. If an elderly plaintiff is in a case, the defense may delay case resolution in the hope that the party dies. The defense that may be available to the defendant is also a consideration. The defenses may substantially diminish the recovery by plaintiff. An evaluation of this must be done by Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers to ascertain if a case makes economic sense to prosecute.

No case is simple. This overview is meant to educate that there are many moving parts to any case. . .

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