Have you ever fantasized about being interesting enough to have somebody make a movie about your life? I have. Some days, I like to think the movie would resemble something like A Time to Kill or To Kill a Mockingbird. Other days, I’m afraid it will more closely resemble something like My Cousin Vinny. And then there are those days, called Mondays, where I think it will more closely resemble any one of a dozen horror movies.
Who will tell my story, though? Will it be Steven Spielberg? Probably not; my luck would more like to have me paired with the director and screenwriters from Gigli or From Justin to Kelly. I think someone like Tom Cruise, Ryan Phillipe, Johnny Depp, or Matthew McConaughy should play me as they most closely resemble my physical appearance. But, I think luck would probably have me played by Zack Galafinakas or Seth Rogan.
As with the movies, who tells your story at trial can have a large impact on its success. Many clients assume that I will be the only one telling their story. They are often crushed and become nervous when they realize that they to will have to tell their story by testifying. Often, they have the misconception that the real world works like Law & Order and that they do not have to take the stand. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in a civil case.
The success of the trial also depends on others telling the client’s story. Expert medical witnesses can often be a great choice to develop the story of what the client went through depending on the type of treatment they received. Many attorneys sometimes overlook the value of an expert witness as a harms and losses witness, and focus solely on the facts and opinions; they forget the “how does that feel for the patient” and “what’s that like for the patient” questions. The defendant themselves may also prove to be a useful storyteller for the plaintiff depending on the facts of the case.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the Plaintiff’s own friends, coworkers, church members or family can help tell the their story. It is simply not enough for most jurors to hear this type of testimony solely from the Plaintiff as it is self-serving in the eyes of a juror. Having others that know the client testify at trial helps give different point of views to the client’s story, and bolsters the credibility of the pain and suffering argument in the eyes of the jury. A client would do well to provide their attorney with a list of people who know them that can help shed light on what they went through after their injury.
Disclaimer: The views of the author are his own. Nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice. The author, after consultation of his wife, is realistic and acknowledges that he does not look like Tom Cruise, Ryan Phillipe, Johnny Depp, or Matthew McConaughy. This is why the author does not get paid lots of money to have people take pictures of him to The GAP, Calvin Klein and the like, nor appear on the cover of People Magazine for their “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. Therefore, the author will settle for James Franco, Jake Gyllenhaal or Ryan Reynolds.