What is a focus group and why is it important?

One of the biggest challenges for a victim in a personal injury case is deciding whether to accept a settlement or take a case to trial. It can be tempting to accept a lower settlement rather than risk receiving nothing at all by going to trial—and many victims make this decision based solely on an attorney’s advice. However, our attorneys offer an additional strategy to get our clients the best possible resolution to their case. By convening focus groups, we get an idea of what to expect in court, strengthening both our client’s case and bargaining position.

Our Focus Groups Give Us Additional Insight Into Each Accident Case

At GriffithLaw, we will often gather members of the community together in a focus group to conduct a mock-trial of a case. We may present evidence, visual aids, and testimonies in exactly the same way we would in court, encouraging members of the group to ask questions and offer their opinions. The “jury” will deliberate, offer its decision, and tell us the amount of damages they would award our client if they were assigned to hear the case. This is not something all attorneys do.

It should be noted that a focus group is not a foolproof prediction of what will happen at trial. There are too many variables (including the judge, defense attorney, and jury pool) to predict exactly what will happen in court. That said, focus groups can be invaluable when it comes to testing different presentation strategies, knowing how we should present the information that matters most to jurors, and applying the information we gather to negotiate a better settlement.

For us, a focus group is an opportunity to:

  • Get inside the mind of the jury. No matter how much preparation attorneys do, they can never be certain how a jury will feel about any particular case. Focus groups get opinions from a mixed group of people with no relation to anyone in the case, giving attorneys insight on how others might approach and interpret the facts.
  • Listen to deliberation. While people involved in a case are not allowed to listen to a real jury deliberate, attorneys may watch focus group deliberations via recording session. By listening to the conversation, attorneys can identify which evidence is most important, which jury members are likely to side with the victim, and major factors that lead the jury to make its final ruling.
  • Identify potential weaknesses and biases. Most attorneys will be able to identify the weaknesses in their own cases. However, watching the focus group allows them to see how much weight is given to weaker elements of the case. Attorneys may also notice that some individuals are more likely to be biased against their clients, giving them an insight into jury selection.
  • Hone our arguments. An attorney’s presentation of the case can vary greatly before and after a focus group. The focus group’s questions can add depth to the original preparation, or it can inspire us to take a completely different approach to presenting the case.
  • Estimate damages. Attorneys can meticulously detail the costs of an injury, but in the end, the amount of damages in a car accident case is up to the jury. It is not uncommon for juries, victims, and attorneys to have varying opinions on what the amount of damages should be, and convening a focus group is an opportunity to get all parties on the same page. For example, if a victim refuses to settle for anything less than $500,000, but is awarded only $200,000 by a focus group, he or she may be more likely to accept a $300,000 settlement when it is offered by an insurer.
  • Save time. A focus group offers both attorneys and victims an opportunity to resolve a case more quickly. First, they will know exactly which parts of the case are most relevant to the jury. Second, they will be able to judge with confidence whether a settlement offer is fair. Finally, they will be able to gauge the likelihood of winning the case in court, taking some of the risk out of proceeding to trial.

The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.