Going to Trial: A Couple is T-Boned by a Sheriff
A sheriff who was on a run with no lights or sirens – called stealth – in a semi residential area slams into our clients who were pulling out of a private driveway. The couple did not see him coming as he came around a curve and was travelling between 68-74 mph. The officer claimed his lights and siren were on, but witnesses disagree.
Her husband had internal injuries including a lacerated spleen. The internal bleeding caused hemorrhagic shock and respiratory distress and he had to be revived. He also had spine, rib and sternum fractures and a brain injury. His injuries and sepsis kept him in the hospital for 59 days. He had extensive physical therapy, chronic pain and never came back to his previous health. He ultimately died 2 years later of an underlying condition which we feel was caused by the accident.
After the accident the police did not investigate the incident as is the normal practice. They did not do a reconstruction of the accident or even review or download the data recorder from the air bag module. They also sold the vehicle before it could be inspected by an outside agency. The only evidence left is the word of one officer, and the other witnesses.
Thankfully the wife recovered from her injuries and has chosen not to be included in the lawsuit.
We believe that the sheriff was in the wrong and driving recklessly in a residential area. He knew the area well since he frequently patrolled that location. He should have used caution around the curving road and should have used lights and sirens to warn drivers.
Doctor’s Testimony is Crucial!
Medical testimony is always a large part of a personal injury trial. It’s rare for a treating doctor to testify live (in person) during a trial. It’s difficult for them to clear their schedules to accommodate a whole day at a trial. We often use video of the doctor to provide information for the jury and help us explain injuries and how they are related to an event. It’s important that the testimony be clear and fast moving to get the point across to the jury. Frequently our trial team will use 3D models to show a jury visually or clear depiction of the injury.
Doctors also provide us with key words and phrases that help reinforce with the jury the points that we want them to remember. An experienced trial attorney knows to weave them throughout opening and closing arguments and while laying out evidence.
War Room Meetings
Preparing for a trial is a team approach at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys. A couple times a week the team gathers to review all pleadings, medical records, photos and testimony from witnesses and doctors. There are meetings with the family and witnesses. There is a lot at stake and it’s crucial to plan a case so it’s done right and doesn’t go to appeal.
I Object! What are the Motions in Limine?
In the beginning of a trial each attorney will submit motions that will ask the court to keep out certain testimony or evidence at the time of trial. Every lawyer must be a Master of the Rules of Evidence.
A lawyer can always object to evidence when it is preferred at the time of trial in front of a jury. However, sometimes it is best to address with the court certain evidence before it is mentioned in front of a jury. This is done by filing motions in advance of trial, called motions in limine. They should be considered and filed in any case. A trial attorney needs to consider what other side will try to do (sometimes proper, sometimes not) and try to stop it with the rules of evidence.
A Word About Our Law Enforcement Community
We admire and respect our law enforcement community. This is very important to note. And, when we sue a government office like the sheriff’s department there is an insurance company behind these cases that is refusing to pay an adequate amount based on the injuries. In this case it was the death of someone.
Preparation and Experience is Key to a Successful Trial
The team at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, has hundreds of trials under their belt. It’s this experience that is necessary to be successful for their clients. It’s this reputation of fearlessness that makes insurance companies dread going up against the team and this results in bigger settlements for our clients.