In order to have a successful case, I must have a client that is presentable to the jury. I’m not talking about how someone looks or how someone dresses but how he or she acts. Guy DiMartino, writes an excellent blog post about the qualities of an ideal personal injury client, read it here. He hints at 4 qualities that make an ideal client and I am going to add two more traits that I believe are important as well.
- A Client that is Truthful and Honest
There is an old saying in law that says, “your case is as good as it’s going to get the day it walks into the office.” The reason that saying came about is because typically clients do not give me the full story when they come to my office. They are worried that I am not going to take their case. However, this is the exact opposite of what I actually want! I want a client that is going to tell me every wart, pitfall and problem of the case the second they walk through my doors. This will help me determine exactly what I need to do with the case to best prepare it for a jury.
Guy makes a great point that not only do juries despise Plaintiffs who do not tell the truth but insurance companies and defense attorneys are experts at finding out the truth. If you lie, you will be caught and your case will suffer. Insurance companies will at times send private investigators to spy on Plaintiffs if they think they are exaggerating injuries. We need to be as candid and open with each other as possible so I can guide you in the right direction.
- A Client Who Continues to Treat and Does NOT Miss Appointments
A Client who will show up to the doctor when the doctor tells them to is a client who cares about getting better. It is not a client who is looking for a handout. It is important to continue treating until you are fully healed. A jury will look at missed appointments as an indication that your injuries are not that severe. Insurance companies will use it in the same way to devalue your case before making you an offer.
- Client who will take their case seriously and invest time into the case
Many of my clients want to hire me and sit back and wait for the checks to come in. Some cases will be easy and that is exactly what will happen. However, in cases where my clients are severely injured in a car wreck or some other accident it will require work. We will need to properly prepare you for depositions, learn about your family, learn how the actual accident occurred and how it has impacted your life. All of these are important to properly work up your case. Juries do not like a case where the client has not put work into being prepared. A client that doesn’t remember facts of the case or cannot clearly articulate what happened will tell the jury that you just are not into it.
- Client who do not smoke
This does not come up, as often in a car wreck case but in a medical malpractice or a pharmaceutical negligence case, this is extremely important. A jury does not want to award money to someone who is clearly not interested in getting better. The message that is conveyed to the jury is that you are only interested in getting money for the car wreck or medical negligence case but aren’t really interested in your overall health.
- An underdog who just needs a little help
If you look at the biggest personal injury verdicts, I would almost guarantee that the person who was injured was an underdog who was fighting to get better. They were someone who was severely injured but is now running their own philanthropy project or someone who is inspiring others. A jury loves an underdog who they can help but who is already doing something now to get better. The biggest verdicts always come when someone just needs a little more help to get them over the edge to recovery.
Juries do not like a jerk. They like someone who is easy to get along with and sincere. They like someone who is like them or reminds them of a love one. I have seen many good cases turn bad just because the client is not likable.
While all of these things are great to keep in mind, I would not suggest you change yourself. You should however, take a look at whether you are treating your case and your health seriously. I love my job. I love my clients. I know that the work that I am doing is truly helping someone who has had a rough go because of someone else’s negligence. If you would like me to take a look at your case, please do not hesitate to call 816-200-2900.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.