Forming a Personal Injury Case with Unique Injuries
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Some attorneys who have experience dealing with personal injury cases often find a certain degree of comfort in “treadmill cases,” where they form cases around familiar injuries. It can be tempting to avoid building a case around a unique injury that may sound unfamiliar; however, these injuries often have a potential value that a legal professional could be leaving on the table.Research the Injury
When lawyers are seeking to build a case around an unusual injury, it is important to research the injury. While the patient who suffered a fractured femur in an auto accident may not require any additional research, other unusual injuries and catastrophic injuries certainly will. Fortunately, there is a tremendous amount of information readily available on the internet. It is fine to start with a simple search in a basic search engine that will often yield a significant amount of information. Then, it is time to start parsing the information, separating what is valuable from what is not. Some people may be surprised to learn that Wikipedia actually has a tremendous amount of reputable information contained within its archives. Therefore, do not be afraid to trust the information on these pages, particularly if there is a reference to a footnote on the bottom.Peer-Reviewed Sources
Just the like the legal field, it is vital to go back to the peer-reviewed sources in the medical literature. PubMed is one of the largest medical databases in the world and has a litany of articles published in all kinds of medical journals, including Science and Nature. The latest research on all injuries, ranging from bone fractures to the most unusual of ailments, can be found here. Finally, it is important for legal professionals to ensure that they are pronouncing the injuries (and associated medical terminology) correctly. There are websites available that will pronounce medical terms for the viewer for educational purposes.Seek Experts
The quality of any personal injury case will depend heavily on the experts that are present to support claims of the client. For many cases, this simply means contacting the patient’s physician treating the injuries. Unfortunately, in some cases, physicians will not be willing to assist in the case. Some doctors do not want to even talk to a lawyer given the medical-legal climate of today. When trying to sway a physician to speak on their patient’s injuries, it is important to avoid legal information until absolutely necessary. Remember that physicians are people, too. They will want to talk about the same topics that the average person enjoys talking about. If possible, make the effort to meet with the physician in person, in their office. They will appreciate that an attorney has taken the time to drive out and make time in their schedule. When trying to find something to talk about, looking around their office and see what is displayed. Chances are, that is what is important to them so use it as a conversation starter. They will be willing to talk about that. For those who are truly struggling to find experts, talk to other lawyers and see who has testified for their prior cases.Prepare the Expert
Once an expert has agreed to testify in a unique injury case, prep the expert just as in any other case. It is important to make sure that the expert is able to refer to current, medical literature from peer-reviewed sources. This will help sway a unique injury jury towards the correct side. Furthermore, the defense rarely calls experts that have peer-reviewed sources to back up their claims because there typically aren’t any. If the case is being combined with other, more common injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, it might be helpful to try and “bury” the unique injury under the more common injuries. In this fashion, the defense may believe that the case is only about the more common injury. They might not be prepared for a case that focuses on such a unique injury.When to Drop an Injury
If a case truly has a litany of common traumatic injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, it might not even be necessary to discuss the unique injury in order to win the case. Sometimes, the jury could believe that the plaintiff is overreaching in their case. This could hurt the client and the case. If spending the time and money won’t actually earn the client any additional benefit, it might be helpful to drop the unique injury case, particularly in a case with an overwhelming number of common injuries that already ensures victory. Ultimately, a case with a unique injury presents a number of different challenges for even the most experienced attorney. By taking on these challenges, it is possible for a legal team to uncover significant value that they otherwise may have walked away from.
Attorney Ed SmithContact an Experienced Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Patients develop new and unique injuries all the time and it can be a challenge to create a case around something so unfamiliar. If you or a loved one has been harmed in any way, I encourage you to call my law offices today at 916.921.6400 for friendly, free advice.
I am a member of the California segment of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This is a legal group that is made up of lawyers who have been rated among many of the country’s top personal injury attorneys. This chapter’s lawyers have either earned verdicts or settled cases valued at more than $1 Million Dollars.
Please stop to look through my list of prior verdicts and settlements here.
Image Source: Used under the 4.0 version of the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike International License, via Wikimedia Commons
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