A plaintiff’s testimony is often pivotal to a personal injury case, with their credibility on the stand determining which way a verdict swings. And in a webinar breaking down Joseph Wilson’s win in a crash-case trial last year, Nick Rowley, one of the country's leading trial lawyers, shared a piece of advice he gives his clients.
“When you take that stand, you’re going to be stoic,” Rowley, of Carpenter Zuckerman and Rowley, said he tells his clients.
“Whatever medicine you have to take, whatever you need to do, you want me to come massage your shoulders before you testify, whatever it takes… you’re going to get up and be stoic.
“And in fact we’re going to make sure you only testify at a time and on a day that’s going well.”
Rowley said that tends to run contrary to many plaintiffs’ natural inclinations, and some attorneys’ advice, to dramatically describe pain. But, he said, unless a plaintiff has suffered a catastrophic injury making it impossible to be stoic, dramatic descriptions of pain can undermine their credibility.
“The thing that you see is that lawyers tell [their clients] ‘Oh, you’ve got to make it out to be really, really bad,’” Rowley said. “And then [the defense] has a video of [the plaintiff] getting in and out of the car, and they look just fine, and then you’ve lost some credibility.”
Wilson, of Atlanta's Joseph Wilson Injury Lawyers, agreed, adding that it was Kirche Hall’s powerful, even-toned testimony surrounding the fallout of her crash with an armored truck that helped win the $584,000 verdict. The collision shattered Hall’s arm and ended her career as a nursing assistant.
On the stand, Hall delivered a full but balanced account of the impact the crash had on her life. That testimony, Wilson said, struck a chord with the jurors.
“They were very connected to what she was saying,” Wilson said. “And I think that’s a testament to her and her sister and their credibility and how authentic that they were.”
The discussion on plaintiff testimony is just a small part of a three-hour, fully-indexed webinar breaking down the trial, covered gavel-to-gavel by CVN, and discussing the strategies that win the “tough cases,” as Rowley describes them: the low-speed crash suits, the slip-and-falls, the soft-tissue-injury trials.
And those “real-world” cases are a key part of CVN’s unrivaled trial archive and coast-to-coast courtroom coverage.
Email Arlin Crisco at email@example.com.
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