May 2014 – Joseph Barrett wrote an article published in The Advocate’s May 2014 issue that discussed 10 things lawyers should keep in mind when litigating auto-accident cases, ranging from the importance of doctors and their credentials to never wasting the jury’s time. Barrett’ s first tip is that you “don’t represent the car,” meaning that lawyers should not get too focused on the damage to the car but instead concentrate on the plaintiff.
“If your client is telling the truth and if you believe them, then don’t be defensive just because the pictures don’t look bad. It’s too late to dwell on that,” Barrett wrote. “Show the photos first, but focus on the person: that they were not prepared for this impact, and that they were hurt. Make the case about personal responsibility: the defendant was careless, the impact hurt the plaintiff, and you’re there for economic justice to get what’s fair − that’s all. Don’t be shy and don’t be defensive about it.”
Barrett also recommends looking for ways to humanize your client and recording all the details of the crash “before it fades and is lost.
“If there’s a video, seek to pre-serve it ASAP,” he wrote. “The important thing to remember when you take the case on is, you have the opportunity to gather evidence now, and as we go, what we will need and utilize at trial. This means you need to get to the scene to take pictures before it changes, and to get your engineers there to do measurements and capture what is there to be captured.”
Barrett’s final tip is, “don’t oversell, or be oversold,” namely spend time with your witnesses and trust your instincts about whether they are telling the truth. “Don’t let the plaintiff play you into making the case more than it is,” Barrett wrote. “That road costs you so much time and money, and ultimately leads to a crash and burn at a trial.”