Personal Injury Trial

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Reminiscing

At a tour of the Aquarium in Atlanta. Tour guide is a graduate of Georgia Tech – very pleasant and knowledgeable.

40 years ago I was a National Park Ranger giving tours.

Never realized what good training it was for trial law.

The tour guide is a teacher, a guide – as is the trial lawyer in an injury case.

If you are interesting, creative, in-tune with your audience (jury) and credible, the tour (trial) will go well.

Charlie Donahue

Injury Lawyer

Voir Dire

This legal expression means “to speak the truth”.

It’s used when the lawyers question potential jurors before a trial starts; that is, conducting a voir dire. The point is to get a fair jury.

I’ve always found it interesting that the traditional emphasis has been on jurors telling the truth.

Yet, jurors are not the problem. It’s the lawyers who need to be telling the truth.

Maybe the potential jurors should be made to do a voir dire on the lawyer.

Charlie Donahue

Injury Lawyer

Who are the smartest people in the courtroom?

Sure the judge is smart.

The lawyers.

The clerks.

The court officers – bailiffs, too.

Far and away the smartest is the jury – a group of 12 from all backgrounds and experiences acting as 1.

With all of those years, diversity, and life experiences listening to the evidence, and the lawyers, and the judge’s instructions, the jury is very likely to make the right decision.

Our Founding Fathers were very wise to set up Trial by Jury.

Charlie Donahue

Injury Lawyer

Winning

It is about winning.

Coming in second place in my business is painfully unacceptable.

There’s too much at stake for my clients.

Injury victims only get 1 bite at the apple.

So, winning is paramount.

Nobody hires me to lose.

Its about winning – by working harder than anyone else, being genuinely passionate about people, and what they are going through, and being prepared.

Charlie Donahue

Injury Lawyer

HUSH – look who gets to hide in court – the biggest bully: the insurance company.

At trial the plaintiff is the person making a claim, and the defendant is the person who is being blamed for causing the problem. Both will be in the courtroom.

Insurance pays for the defense lawyers and any verdict the jury might award.

Trouble is – hush – nobody is allowed to talk about insurance and how it gets to hide at court.

Some laws just got to be changed.

For more information check out my previous blog post dated September 3rd, 2019 called Jury Trials – Fraud Exposed.

Charlie Donahue

Injury Lawyer

JURY TRIALS — FRAUD EXPOSED!

It is my firm belief that every case should be settled in an amicable fashion—fair and reasonably. I always advise my clients to settle for a fair amount; this is not some sort of lottery—at least not in my view.

Sadly, the insurance companies, all too often, decide to short-change and cheat injury victims.

When that happens it is important to have a lawyer who is willing to present your case to a jury.

Trial by jury is a great American tradition. It is important in a free society that the citizens make the important decisions. Without juries, the little guy has no chance for justice. In front of the jury, everyone is equal—justice for all.

Unfortunately the power people have done all they can to corrupt trial by jury, to advance their own big money interests at the expense of good, hard-working folks.

The laws are written by the powerful– and that includes big, powerful insurance companies.

Let me give you an example of how the system is stacked against the little guy:

When a case goes to jury trial, the insurance company gets to HIDE. The law prevents the lawyer for the injury victim to tell the jury that the person being sued has insurance. In fact, even though the insurance company is the real party- in- interest, the plaintiff has to sue the other person involved and not his insurance company!

The jury is not told that if the injury victim wins, the verdict is paid by insurance. The trial looks like one individual—the plaintiff, against another—the defendant.

Throughout all pre-trial negotiations the insurance company can bully, harass, threaten, intimidate and make the injury victim’s life difficult, and then HIDE at trial.

The system perpetrates this fraud on the jurors.

And the big insurance companies love it because it tends to limit the amount of jury awards. If jurors are deceived into thinking a defendant might have to pay the award out of his own pocket, they might be hesitant to make a large award—even if the injury victim is entitled to a huge award.

In my opinion, the jury should be told that the defendant has insurance, and that insurance is paying for his lawyer and will pay for any verdict it might award.

Instead, injury victims just have to hope that the jurors figure it out on their own. This is unfair to the little guy in his quest for justice. The compensation that should go to the injury victim and his family goes, instead, to the corporate big-wigs by way of bonuses.

I truly hope that one day there will be enough legislators, who truly want to help the little guy, to change these kind of very unfair laws.

The jurors should be trusted to hear everything that either side needs to present—after all, shouldn’t a jury trial be about justice for all?

How can the law permit fraud? Insurance companies get to hide.

Fraud is illegal and always should be.

Here’s the problem.

Insurance companies are powerful.They have a lot of influence over law makers.

So guess what?

When an injury victim gets screwed over by an insurance company, the only remedy is to file suit.

And, under the law, you can’t sue the insurance company. The lawyer must sue the person – even though hiding (and lurking) in the background is an insurance company.

Worse yet, the lawyer can’t tell the jury the defendant has insurance!!

Can’t say anything about it—even though the jurors must be wondering.

This law was put into place by the power people, big insurance companies to mislead jurors into thinking if they award a big verdict the defendant will have to pay.

False!

Deceptive!!

Wrong!!!

It’s actually criminal.

Insurance companies should not be allowed to hide, and hopefully one day the law will change to allow juries to get all the facts.

It’s simply a matter of trusting the jury with all the information.

It’s legal arrogance and very condescending and demeaning to the good, intelligent people who serve on our juries—who as a group are the smartest people in the court room—by far.

All injury victims can only hope that someone on the jury will figure it out.

Thanks for reading, and listening to me complain!

Charlie Donahue

Injury Lawyer

Talk of ” jury nullification”

There is a very interesting debate going on in New Hampshire regarding Jury Nullification.

It’s not a topic you hear every day, and it has nothing to do with personal injury law, but I want to give you some basics so you’ll know what’s going on.

Jury nullification is when a jury is instructed by the judge it can disregard the law, and acquit a defendant charged with a crime, even if the defendant violated the law.

Here’s the problem:

In normal circumstances, a jury hears a case, determines the facts, and is instructed by the trial judge to follow the law as s/he gives it to them before rendering a verdict.

The jury is the sole trier of the facts of a case; it finds out what happened.

The judge then tells them the law; s/he’s the expert there.

The jury then makes a decision based on the facts and the law.

That’s how it goes most of the time. It’s text-book legal procedure.

How does jury nullification change things?

Jury nullification is different; the jury becomes the finder of fact and the law– judge & jury, really.

Interestingly, many people believe it has always been (as a practical matter) within the power of the jury to decide whatever it pleases. For them, jury nullification is no big deal.

These folks point to early colonial history where it is part of our jurisprudence, and nothing radical at all.

Obviously the jury nullification instruction is something only defense lawyers want because it is potentially a big advantage to criminal defendants.

It does not, in any way, benefit prosecutors.

It allows the jury to let a guilty person go free if it decides that is the best thing/ right thing to do.

It is never Constitutional to let the jury disregard the law to find a defendant guilty.

The push these days seems to be spear-headed by folks who are against the drug laws, particularly marijuana. They are convinced that like-minded jurors will refuse to convict people charged with drug-related crimes, if they are given the chance.

They might be right, especially since a prosecutor needs unanimity among the jurors to obtain a conviction. If one juror holds out, then there is no conviction.

Opponents of jury nullification, on the other hand, argue that everybody is required to follow the law, including jurors, and nobody has the power to re-write the law. It is the job of elected representatives to make the laws, which all are bound to follow.

There is an old story of a young man charged with a crime. After a trial in which the prosecution proved his guilt beyond any reasonable doubt, the jury found him not guilty. When the foreperson of the jury read the verdict, she pointed her finger at the defendant and said: “Not guilty & don’t you ever do it again!”

That’s jury nullification.

Maybe the jurors felt the guy deserved another bite at the apple, liked the fellow, didn’t like the charge the prosecution or whatever.

Jury nullification really has no role in civil cases. It’s been used in criminal cases where it is the state, the prosecution, the government versus the individual defendant.

I don’t know what will happen with the efforts to make jury nullification part of every criminal trial, but folks will be thinking and talking about Constitutional rights– and that is a good thing.

How do I feel about jury nullification?

For those of you who know me and/or read my blogs, you know that I do not shy away from expressing my opinions. I’ve never been a shrinking-violet, as they used to say.

But, I’m a bit undecided on this one right now, although I generally favor anything that gives the jury more power.

Then again, it is not important to have an opinion on everything, is it?

Keep your strength.

Charlie Donahue
Injury Lawyer
Keene, New Hampshire

Insurance adjuster: Donahue injury lawyer dangerous adversary

In the injury law business it’s always nice to get a compliment.

One insurance adjuster ranked some personal injury lawyers in these parts, and put me on top, in terms of being a dangerous adversary.

Quite a compliment because there are a lot of good, competent injury lawyers. There really are some very good ones. Of course there are a lot of hacks too, so an injury victim needs to be extremely careful.

In his view, I am jury-friendly, and that makes for a dangerous adversary.

He knows, through experience, some lawyers are good in front of juries, and some are not. It’s tough to win an injury case if the jury does not like or trust the lawyer– let alone if the jury actually ends up infuriated with the lawyer to the point of hatred.

Yet it happens all the time.

You see real smart ( or so they think) trial lawyers looking down their noses at the jury only to leave the courtroom with their tails between their legs.

The courtrooms in New Hampshire have the skeletal remains of many arrogant trial lawyers.

No doubt about it, being able to talk to jurors with commitment, clarity, and honesty is key.

Too many personal injury lawyers can’t make that connection ( due to arrogance or insecurity or whatever), which is harmful, if not fatal, to a case.

I’ll never forget the words of an injury lawyer with a big advertising budget after he lost yet another jury trial. It was something to the effect he should have been a probate lawyer.

Truer words have never been spoken. But the point is that probate law, for the most part, is not street-law, and dealing with juries.

Those words should have burned in his mouth.

Like a lot of injury lawyers he should have years of psychological counseling and serious spiritual work before he ever tries to present a case to a jury. What a mess, and what a pity.

So, the compliment was nice to hear, especially from a professional in the injury law business.

The jurors as a group, with all their years of experience, are smarter and wiser than any 1 injury lawyer. They’ll spot a phony in a New York minute.

The fact is I really like people. The folks sitting on the jury are the same people you’d see at the ballpark, in church, at the store, at school or downtown. For the most part, I just get along with them.

It is important, however, not to lose sight of the goal—settling the injury claim for top-dollar without going to court.

But if the going gets tough, injury victims need a lawyer who connects with people. After all, they are powerful.

How powerful?

At the end of the day you’re either a winner or a loser… and they make the call.

Keep your strength.

Charlie Donahue
personal injury/ car accident attorney
Keene, N.H.

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Atticus Finch was right:
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