3 Personal Injury Lawyers Weigh in on What to Do if a Case Goes to Court
Three Best Rated® sits down with 3 award-winning personal injury lawyers on what to do if a case goes to court.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, April 2, 2019 (Newswire.com) - Not every personal injury case will make it to the courthouse. Some businesses and persons will prefer to settle it outside of the court, especially if they feel the settlement is fair or don't want to ruin their reputation. However, a client shouldn’t count on that being the case. “In the current climate, many of the major liability insurance companies are denying ‘just’ claims or alternatively giving minimal offers particularly with smaller injury cases,” says William W. Hurst of The Law Office of William W. Hurst. In this case, the lawyer will need to file suit and litigate at least until the trial in order for any sort of fair settlement. “Our lawyer, with the client’s consent, will move quickly and aggressively to begin litigation. A petition is sent out to each defendant... Depositions are set up including mediation,” Gregory H. Herrman of Herrman & Herrman LLP says. If the mediation is unsuccessful, typically the case will go to trial. “In instances where a case goes to court, it’s generally because settlement attempts fail,” explains Jesse Gonzalez of J. Gonzalez Law Firm, “Sometimes the defendant won’t offer a settlement at all or they make a very low offer. At other times, it’s because the defendant and plaintiff can’t come to agreement.” It's hard to look at a case and know ahead of time whether or not a case will go to trial, which is why it’s so important to hire a lawyer that is trial-ready and has experience going to trial. When a case does go to trial, it can be a scary process for the client. That’s why lawyers will spend an enormous amount of time preparing their clients on how to act, how to dress, and what to do. Three Best Rated® sits down with these award-winning lawyers to get advice on what to do if a case goes to court.
One of the best things a client can do to help their lawyer (and themselves) is to collect evidence. “There’s a lot that the average citizen can do to prepare for court, but one of the most important is helping your lawyer secure evidence,” Gonzalez says. While it is always best to consult the lawyer on how to collect evidence and what evidence they need, there are still a laundry list of things a client can help with. The client should always save documents pertaining to the case; this includes police statements, work-related reports, medical record and documents of the treatment process, insurance documents and taking notes when speaking to an insurance adjuster. It is also helpful to take photos of the accident, physical trauma, and/or damages to personal property. “[Before the trial] review your discovery responses, medical records, and depositions,” Herrman says. “Your testimony on the stand needs to mirror your previous deposition statements.”
Don’t Admit Guilt
It’s human nature to apologize for an accident, whether it was their fault or not. However, this can end up hurting the client. “It’s important to be aware that admitting fault at any point can jeopardize your claim,” warns Gonzalez. Something as simple as saying sorry for the accident can cause the client to lose their case. Instead, when the client checks on the other party, it should be limited to checking to see if everyone is okay, calling the police, and getting any other necessary information. “You can ruin your auto accident claim by giving too much information to the at-fault driver,” Herrman warns. The client should only give the at-fault driver information on a need-to-know basis.
Stay Away From Social Media
Nearly everyone has some sort of social media where they share their lives with their friends and family. However, in the middle of a case it’s better to stay off social media for a while. “You better believe that the defendant’s lawyer is checking your accounts to see whether or not you are actually hurt,” Gonzalez warns. Posting on social media is often second nature nowadays, so the client might not even think when they post picture, video, or status, but they should! It could come back to haunt them in the courthouse. “I’ve seen plaintiffs who have claimed injury and disability in lawsuits and subsequently post pictures of them water skiing. You can imagine the result,” Hurst says. Is risking a case really worth a couple of comments on social media? Probably not.
The Jury is Watching
In the courthouse, the jury will watch, and notice, everything. “Not only the demeanor and appearance of the clients, but also the appearance, movements, etc. of the attorneys are under scrutiny,” Hurst explains. A good attorney will already know how to appear and act in court and advise their client on how to act also. This includes dressing professionally, acting respectfully, and refraining from outburst or disrespecting the judge and jury. “It is not necessary to be in a suit like your attorney, but you should plan on wearing a nice button up shirt, or a professional looking dress,” says Herrman. “You want to impress your jury!” There’s no need to risk the case needlessly by not trying their best to impress the judge and jury.
Tell the Truth
One of the best ways to lose the case quickly is to be caught in a lie. Even the smallest of lies can cast doubt on the whole case, and will most likely lose. “A case will end quickly if an injured plaintiff who limps into a courtroom is later seen crossing the street from a courtroom window with a perfectly normal gait,” says Hurst. “Hopefully the trial lawyer will discover this about his/her client long before going into Court and terminate the legal relationship.” A client should always be truthful to court and their lawyer. “Hiding previous accidents or previous injuries or medical conditions from your lawyer will adversely affect your claim,” Herrman warns. Being open and honest with the lawyer will help build a stronger case and will increase the likelihood of a fair settlement.
In the end, a client should always talk to their lawyer on what they need to do in a case, and follow their advice. Each case is different and a trusted lawyer will be able to give the best advice for each particular case. The client should hire a lawyer they feel comfortable with and regularly discuss the case and what they, as the injured person, need to do.
About William H. Hurst
William H. Hurst is a trial lawyer with The Law Office of William W. Hurst. He started with an insurance company and was sponsored for his first semester of law school. He achieved high honors and obtained a scholarship which allowed him to continue with law school. He found he wanted to empower and represent victims against major corporations. 35 years later, William H. Hurst is still giving his clients the attention and passion he had when he first started. He believes it is his responsibility to seek justice for his clients and will take the case as far as it needs to go to do so. He has been recognized for his excellence and was named one of the top three personal injury lawyers in Indianapolis, Indiana for 2019 by Three Best Rated®.
About Gregory H. Herrman
Gregory H. Herrman is the managing partner of Herrman & Herrman. He has been handling accident cases since 1987 in Texas and a few other states. He put himself through college and law school by selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, and later teaching others how to sell them. By 1987 he decided to close his Austin office and move to Corpus Christi, where he located now, to practice law with some big-time lawyers. In 1992, he decided he had enough representing large insurance companies and protecting them. He wanted to help people. He saw how the system was stacked against them and decided to represent injured human beings instead of corporations. Today he is advocating for his clients with conviction and compassion. Three Best Rated® has recognized him for his excellence and named him one of the top three personal injury lawyers in Corpus Christi, Texas for 2019.
About Jesse Gonzalez
Jesse Gonzalez is the lawyer for J. Gonzalez Law Firm. As a child of migrants who would travel “up north” for work, he has seen injustices against underrepresented peoples with no voice to fight against the injustices done to them. He knew that he wanted to be that voice and attended college with encouragement from his parents. He graduated law school and returned to Rio Grande Valley to give a voice to every injured resident there. He has been practicing for nearly 18 years now. He works to empower his clients through an open and trusting environment. He strives to resolve cases as quickly as possible, with the compensation his clients deserve, so they can start the healing process. He has been recognized for his excellence and has been named one of the top 3 personal injury lawyers in McAllen, Texas for 2019 by Three Best Rated®.
Source: Three Best Rated®