Top Sixteen Ways to Lose a Simple Car Wreck Case

Written by AMLO.

The Advocate by M. Austin Mehr  May/June 1999  Vol. 26, No. 3

  1. Let your client, who is claiming a TMJ dysfunction, eat lunch during trial at a local restaurant under the critical scrutiny of jurors who watch him chew his food with vigor.
  2. Believe everything your client tells you.
  3. Fail to tell your client, when she is on witness stand, not to look over at you and wink when she thinks she has done a great job of answering the defense lawyer's questions.
  4. Ignore the outcome of your client's previous slip and fall case, their malpractice claim and their Social Security determination.
  5. Fail to tell your client to postpone their next accident until you settle their current claim.
  6. Fail to relate the injury and vehicle damage.
  7. Allow yourself to believe the posturing of the defense lawyer.
  8. Not prepare your medical or chiropractic witness for cross-examination.
  9. Ask for a larger award than your client is entitled to. If you represent “wonder woman” who is active in exercise, competitive sports and volunteer work with a serious social consciousness before the accident and the impact is low speed minor damage rear end collision, do not try to ask for $100,000.00. If you have a $10,000.00 case say so.
  10. Fail to get local counsel assistance in picking your jury when you are from out of town.
  11. Allow the defense lawyer to portray the defendant as the “victim” because she has been sued.
  12. Allow the defense lawyer to put into evidence that your client receives SSI or disability income when your venue is a white collar city with virtually no unemployment.
  13. Have the plaintiff's family (and worse yet, your own family) present during the trial. A juror once, after a defense verdict, described this as “vultureisitic appearance.”
  14. One trial lawyer planned to use his client's mother to describe the pain and suffering of her daughter. Despite having an active happy appearing life, she was really quite troubled and debilitated by the injury. This is something only a mother would do. However, immediately before the mother was to take the stand, the family physician was testifying. He had also treated the mother for many years and volunteered that “I know her mother has been deeply troubled by her daughter's injury and this is unfortunate considering the sad fact that one of the symptoms of her mother's mental illness has been that she always overreacts and exaggerates things.”
  15. Naively represent, in a foreign venue, the daughter of the most hated man in the county and expect any juror to believe her or be sympathetic to her plight.
  16. Fail to obtain copies of videos and other surveillance of your client conducted by the defendant.

The above lessons were collected from numerous trial lawyers, although the author claims to have learned some of these lessons personally.