The Defense Case in Personal Injury Litigation
THE DEFENSE CASE
When all your evidence has been presented, your attorney rests your case. The defense attorney may then ask the judge to dismiss the case for insufficient proof. This virtually never works, yet for technical reasons the insurance company’s lawyer often makes this request. Then the presentation of the defense case begins.
The first witness presented by the defense is usually its strongest. Since your evidence has dominated the first half of the trial, the defense seeks to take away your momentum by offering up testimony that is as compelling as possible in favor of the defense. The first defense witness might attack either your version of the accident or the injury claim itself. Perhaps the defendant will testify about how the accident happened from his or her viewpoint. An eyewitness may testify.
If the defense is not contesting fault for the accident, or if it does not have a strong witness on liability, it may put a doctor on the stand to testify about the severity of your injuries.
The defense will have carefully prepared its witnesses for testimony. The defense lawyer hopes to persuade the jury to return either a defense verdict or a low monetary award. Carefully prepared testimony will help.
Your lawyer gets the opportunity for cross-examination after the insurance attorney finishes questioning each defense witness on direct. The roles the lawyers played during the presentation of your part of the case are now reversed. The defense lawyer presents the evidence and your lawyer then attempts to punch holes in the believability or significance of that evidence.
The defense attorney presents the testimony of all witnesses it has to oppose the plaintiff’s case. In addition, the defense offers any other evidence it possesses to support its defense to your claim, such as photographs of the vehicles showing very little property damage. This will work to rebut your claim that the collision caused a serious injury.
In cases involving serious personal injuries, the insurance company frequently engages in surveillance. It may retain an investigator to spy on you. If you are involved in personal injury litigation you need to be on your guard against this kind of tactic. The insurance company may attempt to videotape you engaging in physical activities in order to show the jury that you are not as injured as you claim. Insurance companies have been known to flatten the tires of the plain- tiff’s car and then videotape him or her changing the tire.