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Behind the Scenes of a Personal Injury Trial

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attorney jeremy hogan behind the scenes personal injury trial

Today we are going to talk about the things about trials that most people don’t know about – the things you don’t see or hear about on TV.  Secrets and inside looks at what it’s all about.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO TRIAL?

I just finished a 6 day trial in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Courthouse. It was a trial from a car accident that happened in 2014.  Five years ago! The first thing most people don’t understand is the intense litigation that occurs before you can even get to trial. 

Part of this is because most insurance companies strategy is to delay, delay, delay with countless of discovery.  And part of it in this case was simply that our trial date last year was cancelled because the Judge on our case retired – pushing us to a new Judge and a year down the road on his trial docket.  Can’t try a case without a Judge.

INTENSE LITIGATION

So, preparation for this case began five years ago with intense litigation including many depositions (oh so many depositions) of all the doctors, witnesses, expert witnesses.  These are about half of the deposition transcripts taken in our case. 

MOCK JURY

Two months before trial we actually did a mock trial of the case.  We hired six people off Craigslist and presented the case to them to see if they believed our client was seriously injured. 

I played the defense attorney – which was kinda fun.  We recorded the mock jury deliberating and were able to gain a lot of insight that way.

TEAM WORK

Trial started on a Monday and so you basically clear your calendar for a week before.  You are going to do nothing but live, sleep and eat preparation. 

There is almost always a lot of work by staff – even if just because they have to pick up the slack for the attorneys who aren’t doing anything but trial prep.  Props to them.

A SURPRISE MOTION

There’s no relaxing the day before trial.  Trial actually began the week before with Motions – So the defense was trying to exclude our star witness, yes the day before trial. So that meant a surprise hearing we had to deal with. 

They lost of course – but that meant extra work – the morning of trial started with me walking the Orders in front of the Judge. Then from there we started voi dire, opening statements, and our first witness – what people typically think of as trial.

And then at the end of the first day the defense decided to hit us with another surprise motion – again a motion about what evidence could be presented to the jury.  The judge decided to have us argue it in the morning so … Monday night guess what I was doing?  Research and briefing of the issue.

I didn’t get to sleep until midnight. When you are in trial – you are working from when you get up until you sleep.

EXPERTS AND COSTS

Costs.  Almost $60,00 in this case. 

Most people don’t understand how much money goes into a trial.  An accident trial involves doctors, lots of doctors, because they testify about our client’s injuries, their medical treatment, and what our client’s future medical needs will be. 

And doctors are not free – they charge to be deposed, to talk with me about what their testimony will be and they charge a lot to testify. 

POST-TRIAL MOTIONS

In our case, we presented all our evidence, witnesses. It took six long days.  But at the end of the day the jury awarded FOUR TIMES what the insurance company’s “top offer” was before trial. 

Great result, right and the check is coming next week, right?  NOT YET! There are normally months, sometimes years of post-trial motions, hearings and possibly appeals. 

These insurance companies are like zombies, they just keep coming.

A HAPPY CLIENT

Five years of work, sixty-thousand dollars and two weeks of neglecting work and family.  Is it worth it?  Our client got to tell his story to the jury and we fought for him every step of the way.  Absolutely worth it.

Jeremy Hogan
Jeremy Hogan
Attorney Jeremy Hogan is a partner at Hogan & Hogan.