What Role Does Trial Advocacy Play in an Accident Case?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Michael Chaloupka with Metier Law Firm.
Trial advocacy is an important trade skill for attorneys who expect to find themselves in court. Trial lawyers specifically seek out additional training in this field to provide their clients with the best shot possible at success in the courtroom. It’s important to remember that while any lawyer can go to trial, not all lawyers are trial lawyers. An attorney who has not sought additional training in client advocacy or taken cases to court seeking a favorable verdict over a settlement will not have the same strengths on their side. Whenever a case is particularly complicated or unlikely to settle fairly outside of court, it’s a good idea to look for a certified trial attorney. In fact, some people may even be more willing to offer a fair settlement upfront to avoid going to court if they know the attorney handling the case is skilled in trial advocacy.
Trial advocacy is not entirely dissimilar to what people watch on courtroom dramas.
The basic idea of trial advocacy can be summed up in those dramatic scenes everyone has watched on television where an attorney sweeps into the courtroom, captures the attention of the jury, and presents damning evidence to prove their client’s case. While these scenes are definitely exciting to watch, real life trial advocacy has less to do with giving a visually striking performance and more to do with intimately understanding how judges, juries, and courtroom procedures work. An attorney who has sought ongoing training in trial advocacy and does not shy away from taking an accident case to court will know what type of evidence the jury will want to see, as well as what kind of verdicts the judge is likely to hand down.
Trial advocacy can even help before going to court.
After an accident, the at-fault party and their insurance providers are likely to attempt to reach a settlement with the injured party. Settlements are not necessarily bad; however, without the help of an experienced accident attorney, it can be hard to know what constitutes a good settlement offer. Hiring a trial lawyer right off the bat is a good way to stop any low-ball settlement offers before they start. Rather than starting with the minimum offer and working their way up, the at-fault party is more likely to offer the maximum settlement right away to avoid the additional legal fees involved in going to trial, since a trial attorney is more likely to obtain a verdict of the same amount anyways. In the case of an accident with a large truck or 18-wheeler, it is particularly recommended to seek out a trial lawyer, as these companies even keep track of which lawyers go to court and win, as well as those who tend to settle out for their clients at lower numbers.
Hiring a lawyer trained in trial advocacy costs the same as any other accident attorney.
Most accident attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis; this means they do not get paid unless and until the client wins the case. In the event of a settlement or verdict, the lawyer then takes a previously-agreed-upon percentage of the recovery money. This means that someone who has been injured in an accident has their pick of accident lawyers, including trial lawyers.
Whenever the damages involved in an accident have been catastrophic, involved a large or powerful corporation such as a trucking company, or the at-fault party has been particularly uncooperative, it’s a good idea to find a trial lawyer; this gives you the best shot at a fair settlement, as well as the best shot at a successful verdict if your case goes to trial. It’s a good idea to ask about an attorney’s courtroom experience in the initial consultation, to get an idea of their trial advocacy skill level.