You have begged your attorney to get this matter settled, but the insurance company and their defense lawyers have lowballed you, harassed you, followed you, Facebook stalked you, and have dragged this case out so long, hoping you would just give up out of sheer exasperation.
But you didn’t. You have persevered. Now, you are entering a world that is totally foreign to you. You are scared to death. You feel like you have to remember so many things that it makes your head swim. Your attorney warns you that you can’t mention the word “insurance” or “adjuster” in front of the jury; for if you do, there will be a mistrial, which you only know means that it is bad for you, and you will have to start all over. You really do not want to do that.
Here are 3 overall general concepts you need to know in order to give your best trial testimony.
1. BE YOURSELF. Juries are incredibly smart and perceptive. You could not pull anything over on them even if you think you are good at it and if you tried. This sounds so easy but is hard to do. You must be brutally honest with your lawyer, with every answer, and with yourself. We all know you are nervous and scared. It’s okay. You will relax as the process unfolds. You don’t need to be emotional. You certainly don’t need to have any fake emotion. However, you do need to be “emotionally available.”
2. Be a fighter/ NOT A VICTIM! No one likes someone who has given up. Have you ever noticed that if you see someone drop their groceries that most people will rush to help them pick up the contents? The person who dropped it is vulnerable. They need help. Juries are the same way. They will help you if you need help. They will give you a hand up, but never a “hand-out.” If you sit there and whine and complain and over exaggerate every pain in the world you have had and relate it all to your case, the jury will not find that attractive, and they will punish you. You need to prepare your mind that you are not going to be portrayed as a helpless victim. YOU are a FIGHTER. You have been dealt lemons and you are hellbent on making lemonade out of them. As a great lawyer once said, you need to “smile though your tears.”
It’s one thing to say, “I hurt all the time.” It’s quite another to say, “Every day after I wake up, I look in the mirror as soon as I use the bathroom. Every morning, just for a brief second, I am hopeful that my face is not scarred up anymore, and I will see my old self as I was before this car wreck.” If you believe this, and it is real to you, a jury will help you. And it will be the best feeling in the world, knowing that justice was finally done.
3. LOVE the Jury. I know this is going to sound crazy, but I truly believe that the attitude we project will oftentimes be returned and rewarded to you. When I try a case, I am there to love everybody in that court room. I am there to love you, love the jury, the judge, and yes, even that defense lawyer who has treated you like crap for the past year or 2. Why? One thing I have definitely learned is… If you are arguing with the defense attorney in front of the jury, you are losing to the jury. I fervently believe that with my heart. There are some talented and very honorable defense lawyers out there for the most part. But there are some real snakes I wish I could just punch them once right in the face (okay,,, maybe twice, but I won’t name names). I would rather try a case against a jerk on the other side as opposed to an insurance lawyer I happen to like. You give them 2 days in front of a jury and they can’t help but to show their true colors and reveal their true inner-ass.
You can’t help but take it personally as to the way some insurance defense lawyers have treated you. I get it. But I am telling you, and my hundreds of clients I have represented at trial will tell you, you MUST rise above it and not engage them in their arena. I tell my clients that if the defense attorney is berating them on the stand, to NOT fight back or be a smart alec. You are to be the baby seal on the white sandy beach with blood streaming out of their head while that jerk insurance lawyer is beating your head in. The jury will hate him/her for it. And a jury that gets mad at the defense lawyer will be your best friend.
I tell my clients every day that, “You can never SETTLE your case for what a jury might give you.” Sure there is risk, but it is a calculated risk. Certainly, there are NO guarantees. The preparation time is tedious and exhausting. I don’t see my family for most of the 2 weeks before trial and certainly none during the trial. The expenses are high and there is no guarantee of recovery. BUT….
If you follow these basic guidelines, and you prepare half as hard as your attorney will/should, you will have one of the most pleasant and memorable experiences you will ever encounter.
Now, go forth, do justice, and kick some booty.