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Mike Myers
Mike Myers
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Strengthening Cases

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I have posted a lot about opportunities to enhance personal injury claims. Most of these focus on the positive – that is, things that should be done in order to increase the value of personal injury claims. In some sense we’ve over-emphasized offense and neglected defense. It’s equally important to focus on the things that should not be done – the things that detract from the value of personal injury claims.

It’s important to play to the strength of the case. Emphasizing the strengths not only adds value in and of itself, but also draws the attention away from the weaknesses. Unfortunately, that message can be lost on some personal injury clients.

Personal injury clients are typically in pain and have suffered financially as a result of their injuries. Oftentimes they want to pursue every available theory of recovery. While this has some superficial appeal, it often backfires.

We represented a man suffering from a terrible pressure sore. The hospital at which he was treated for a litany of illnesses failed to employ proper offloading techniques. This negligence caused the pressure sore. Rather than just focusing on the physical injuries caused by the pressure sore as well as the pain and loss of enjoyment of life associated with it, our client wanted to focus on his inability to return to work.

Our client had not worked in eight years before he was admitted to the hospital where the pressure sores developed. He had a host of unrelated medical conditions which qualified him for Social Security disability. Pressure sore or not, there was no way he was either capable of or motivated to return to work. Including a lost income or loss of earning capacity claim in his case would have added no value and highlighted the extent of his disability before suffering the pressure sore. Also it would have made him look greedy, grasping and overreaching. None of those things motivate defendants to write checks.

Like so many things in life, it’s important in personal injury claims to play to your strengths. Trying to do too much ultimately emphasizes the weaknesses of your case and dilutes the strong points. Moderating the impulse to pursue the every hypothetical damage theory yields the best results.