August 15, 2014
Five Things You Need to Know About Preparing for Trial in a Personal Injury Case
By Jonathan Damashek
If you were injured in an accident in New York City and the insurance company is not offering you the compensation to which you’re entitled, or is denying your claim, you may have to go to court to receive the compensation you deserve. You may be confused about the process but you have an attorney who is there for you. Here are five things you need to know about preparing for your personal injury trial.
- Litigation is a long process. From the filing of the complaint (the lawsuit) to your actual day in court can take a year or longer. Just because you have filed a complaint does not mean that your case is heard right away. There are many steps in the litigation process, such as discovery, depositions, mediations, negotiations, and motions that must be filed and heard before a trial can commence. At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., we investigate every personal injury case we take as if the case is going to trial. That thorough preparation allows us to negotiate on behalf of our clients from a position of strength.
- Be prepared to testify. You are a key witness in your personal injury case. You are going to be examined by your attorney and cross-examined by the defense attorney during depositions and at trial. As experienced trial attorneys, we work with clients to develop truthful and accurate responses that are worded to portray your side of the story most forcefully. Practice your answers and remain calm and collected while giving your responses. Don’t let the other side frustrate you into making mistakes.
- Expect to be asked personal information. The other side gets to know things about you. They are going to find out about who you are, where you work, how much money you make, what your medical history contains, and other facts that may be personal in nature. Be prepared to present this information in a truthful and open manner. Do not lie or hide facts that the other side will likely find out about anyway. We will help you prepare for this line of questioning. You will get to find out information about the other side as well. It’s a two-way street.
- Trial is unpredictable. We only take cases that we think are valid and winnable. We prepare carefully for trial and are aggressive advocates for our clients’ interests. Still, issues sometimes arise in the course of a trial that are unpredictable. There are many actors in a trial. There is a judge who may or may not be sympathetic to your case. There is a jury and each juror brings a certain perspective on life and a unique way of thinking and problem solving. There are lawyers on each side arguing legal positions and making objections that can be ruled upon in different way. Because there is no way to predict the outcome of a trial, cases often get settled just before a trial or even during a trial. We will discuss any settlement offer with you and advise you on whether we think the offer is reasonable.
- Be prepared for a verdict that you may disagree with. Avoid any lawyer who proposes to guarantee a win or a successful trial outcome. A New York jury is going to render a decision based on the evidence presented at trial. They may find the defendant not liable to pay you any compensation for your injuries. The jury may find the defendant liable but the amount of the verdict may be far less than what you wanted. While the outcome of any trial is unpredictable, you can strengthen your chances for success by choosing a trial attorney with a strong track record of securing verdicts and settlements.