Personal Injury Law: What You Need to Consider Before Going to Trial


Going to trial for the plaintiff in a personal injury contingency fee case can be expensive and demands lots of time. Months before the actual trial begins, you need to be asking yourself some fundamental questions. You must decide if you are willing to cover the case costs. You need to make sure that your client is willing to go to trial and understands the process that lies ahead. The Top 20 Steps to A Successful Personal Injury Trial: 120 Days Before Trial provides a helpful guideline in being prepared and maximizing your leverage in court.

Relationships matter

You need to establish a relationship with your client and spend time in his or her environment. Your client needs to be made to feel comfortable.  You need to make sure that your client understand that trials don’t always go on schedule.

Get the evidence

Create a binder which contains all of the information and statements that may potentially impeach your client.  Knowing your weaknesses allows you and your client to be prepared for cross-examinations and be ready when your client takes the stand. The binder provides an easy source to refer to when preparing your client to take the stand.

Make the medical connection

Consider what medical experts you need to retain or subpoena for trial.  Create a medical examination visit timeline. Create a relationship with the attending healthcare providers and their staff. Be as accommodating as possible to their schedules and time. Be prepared to pay doctors for their expert testimony regarding injury causation, the nature and extent of the injury and what medical care was appropriate and reasonable.

Know your Court’s local rules for civil trials

On the first day of trial, most judges will hear the motions in limine and determine what evidence can be introduced in court. You will also be working on the witness and exhibit lists, and fine tuning the statement of the case to be read to the jury.

Know who the players are

Subpoenas need to be go out to witnesses at least 20 days before trial. The conclusions in police reports are typically not allowed in Court but police officers may testify to their first hand knowledge of the facts of the case. When you first meet with your trial judge, it is helpful to put yourself in the trial judge’s shoes and see the case from their perspective.

The Top 20 Steps to A Successful Personal Injury Trial: 120 Days Before Trial is a great resource for personal injury lawyers, law students, and others who want to be as successful as possible when going to court.


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In his 20 years of law practice, Al has handled more than 40 jury trials. This experience, combined with a commitment to ethics and integrity, has earned Al an excellent reputation throughout the San Francisco Bay Area legal community. He is the recipient of Martindale-Hubbell‘s “AV” peer rating, which signifies preeminent legal ability and ethical standards, and has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2006. In 2009, Al was awarded the prestigious 2009 Civil Justice Award by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, given to attorneys who show integrity, grit, tenacity, ethics, and great advocacy skills, and who contribute to the betterment of consumers and/or injured victims and their families.

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