During the last few weeks, we have really been focused on preparing for a few upcoming trials. First up on the docket was a truck crash jury trial in Guntersville. At our office, Jennifer McKown was the primary attorney on this one. It has been her sole focus the past couple weeks.
As we prepared for these trials, I’m reminded that good trial preparation requires you to maintain your focus. You must always remember your goal and don’t get sidetracked. Winston Churchill once said:
You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
I see it this way — In litigation, you do have to throw some stones back at some of the barking dogs. After all, you have to quiet them and keep them at bay. Yet, you don’t want to stop moving forward and you don’t want to lose your path. Like barking dogs, some defense lawyers try to slow you down or keep you distracted.
The upcoming Guntersville trial is a pretty simple case. Another driver turned directly in front of oncoming traffic on Highway 431 without looking. He violated the Rules of the Road. He caused a crash. Our client suffered serious injuries. Simply put, the case proceeded on the path to trial because the defendant (his insurance carrier) refused to accept responsibility. So, we have been preparing for trial.
In our Guntersville case, we’ve dealt with a number of side issues created by the law firm defending the case. Some of these issues were really ridiculous. What are a few of them? At one point, the defense lawyers filed a motion to continue the trial because one of the lawyers in their firm who had never even attended any of the court proceedings, had a “scheduling conflict” the day of trial. Outrageous! When that motion to continue was denied, they filed a new one actually alleging another of the defense firm’s lawyers would miss a “dinner date” with his wife if the trial occurred as scheduled. Yes, the defense lawyers did file just such a motion.
The side-issues were not limited to defense requests for continuances. At one point, the defense attorneys claimed they were “wronged” because they supposedly could not read an expert report they claim was faxed to them illegibly. However, the defense lawyers forgot to disclose that a copy of the same report was also hand-delivered to them. And, they did not seem to have any problems reading the report during later depositions. Of course, the defense lawyers filed two separate motions for summary judgment despite the fact this was a pretty simple case. They were denied. Then, there was the 11th hour defense motion requesting our client see a new doctor chosen by the defense counsel. Again, denied.
Honestly, when I see a defense lawyer creating ridiculous issues at the 11th hour, I always assume they are nervous about the upcoming trial. It emboldens us to work even harder. Nothing cries desperation more than a motion to continue claiming you would miss a date night if you had to go to trial!
That brings us to the Friday before trial. When everything else failed, the defense lawyers decided to offer the full limits of all available insurance coverage possessed by their client. That is, they offered all the insurance available. That’s a great result for Jennifer. But, she is a little disappointed that she did not get to deliver her opening statement at trial.
These side issues require time and resources. Yet, you cannot let them take you away from focusing on the trial preparation itself. Trials are hard work. Trial preparation makes cases better. It absolutely did in this case. You certainly would not realize the work needed to prepare properly by looking at billboard lawyers. Most billboard lawyers are not working their cases to get the maximum compensation for clients. That’s why you rarely (if ever) see a billboard lawyer taking a deposition, meeting an expert or preparing for trial. You certainly won’t see a billboard lawyer in a serious courtroom. Jennifer will get another chance in court soon!
At the Blackwell Law Firm we focus on personal injury litigation. We believe in hard work and preparation.