Using Truth and Honesty as a Component for the Personal Injury Chess Game

Using Truth and Honesty as a Component for the Personal Injury Chess Game

 Posted by:    Feb 17, 2015  

Every accident injury case requires the injured person to prove what we call the “big-three”: liability, damages and causation. The single biggest challenge in every personal injury case is proving causation.

Rarely, when a distracted driver causes a crash, is there much in the way of dispute that the other person caused the car crash (liability). And, clients, in our experience don't call us or drive to our office just to tell us that they weren't hurt (damages). So, damages, in the form of injures is also generally a lock. Virtually the entire "chess match" between us and the attorneys hired by the insurance companies is the fight over whether the injuries claimed were caused by this particular crash (causation).

Insurance companies arm themselves with beautiful color photos of minimal bumper damage and copiously retrieve arcane medical record of folks documenting minor preexisting injuries to seize advantage in this battle-royal. But, to achieve a complete checkmate, the insurance company really needs one more thing. And it's the thing we try hardest not to give up. It might sound corny but the battle I most often hope to win is the credibility battle.

Credibility means the truth and honesty of an individual. Looking over a quarter century career as a trial lawyer, I can rarely think of a case I didn't win, when my client was proven credible. To the contrary, I can't think of a single case I won when my client was proved a liar. In an injury accident trial, credibility is the most important piece on the chess board (the queen). With credibility, my clients have overcome and won cases with large verdicts where the damage to the vehicles looked minimal, where my clients had significant preexisting injuries. I have even overcome the wicked combination of both (small property damage and related preexisting injuries). A determination as to credibility can with identical low property damage or bad preexisting injuries take what might be a total loser case in front of one jury to a sizable jury verdict in front of another jury.

Truthful and honest clients admit to some of the uglier sides of their case. A truthful client might say, "gosh I looked at the very slight bumper damage to my car and figured I’d be fine." Or "I've had a bad back for years; I didn't figure this little accident would have made any difference in me at all." Seems crazy for a client to admit such things, but, if it's the truth, it's actually like gold.

Furthermore, a truthful and honest appearing client, in my experience, rarely has to go to court and prove their case often because in such a circumstance, the insurance attorney and her adjuster fall all over themselves to get that case settled. Believe me, the insurance industry would much prefer taking a hard line and focusing on people who deny preexisting injuries or who make a big over-dramatic scene after the dented bumper variety crash. Straight-shooters are great for my business and cost the insurance industry plenty.

In the personal injury claim industry, insurance adjusters and their hired gun attorneys often believe that no injury claim is legitimate. They assume that most folks making claims are exaggerating their symptoms and attempting to hide a checkered past of similar injury. We, however, take the insurance companies out of their comfort zone by emphasizing how much better our clients’ cases end when we prevail on the battle of credibility.

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