Flippin' it


Everything we say can be turned around and used against our clients.  Lawyers are trained to analyze fact patterns in terms of logical progression.  A leads to B which results in C.  We think if we're logical that's good enough.  But many of members of the public don't believe a thing  lawyers say.  According to various polls, we are one step above or below used car salespeople and politicians (no disrepect intended).

Our civil justice system was created because of the belief that the wrongdoer defendant should take “personal responsibility” for causing injury and damage.  But lately, the message of “personal responsibility” has been flipped around.  No longer do jurors focus on the defendant’s accountability.  Instead, they scrutinize the plaintiff.

In trial, we can't expect jurors to take what we say at face value.  Suspicions are high.   This grid illustrates how our intent to communicate positive messaging may lead to the opposite result if heard by a skeptical juror.

Lawyer’s thought processSkeptic's thought process

Defendant broke the rules and injured plaintiff.  Fault is clear, the defendant admits liability and so this part of the case is closed.It was not intentional, it was an accident.  People shouldn’t be sued because of an accident.  The plaintiff isn’t the victim here, the defendant is.

Plaintiff’s doctor says the injury was caused by the incident so the defendant is liable for causing the injury.That doctor just wants to help her patient.  She didn’t look at every single medical record.  She just took plaintiff’s word for it.  Something else probably happened but plaintiff wants to blame defendant for all his problems.

Plaintiff suffered pain and disability.We all have aches and pains, that’s part of life.  The only reason plaintiff is blaming this injury on the accident, is so he can get lots of money.

Fair compensation should be included in the verdict for all the legal elements of damages.This was an accident.  If we have to award medical bills—then fine we’ll do that.  But plaintiff shouldn’t make any more money off of this.

In trial, we can't simply speak the truth.  We also have to explain and prove why it is true.