New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
Should a Lawyer Tell the Jury What the Case is Worth in his Opening Remarks
Posted on Feb 13, 2015 in Personal Injury FAQs
Your personal injury case has gone to trial, and your attorney is in the middle of giving his opening remarks. You are thinking at the back of your mind, should your attorney be telling the jury at the end of his remarks, how much money you are seeking as compensation for your injuries.
Mentioning the Value of the Case at the Outset
At the end of opening remarks, some attorneys will ask the jury to award a verdict in his or her client. They do this because they want to put a seed in the juror’s mind that all the testimonies the jury is going to hear are going to lead to that. However, does not the jury know that?
Don’t you think the jury understands why the case has been filed? There are certain attorneys who say that it is better to ask the jury for a particular amount at the beginning during opening remarks. This will plant a seed in their mind that this case is worth that amount of money. The jury will keep that figure in mind, as they go through the entire trial.
Not the Best Strategy
However, this may not be the best strategy. In the beginning of the case, during the opening remarks, the jury has not been able to evaluate the testimony. They have not even been able to determine who is right and who is wrong. If the plaintiff’s attorney turns around during his opening remarks, and tells the jury that his client is entitled to ten million dollars, and that he is going to prove it to them.
Now, what happens when during the course of the trial, the attorney is not able to prove it, or does not prove it to the extent that his client is entitled to that much money. In such a situation the lawyer would have lost his credibility, as he is not able to live up to what he had told the jury at the beginning.
If the lawyer is not able to prove the case or the required testimonies are not available, then the jury will think that the attorney has over-inflated his request, which is a dangerous concept. The jury will not rule in favor because of that and this can hurt the client. This particular type of strategy is not used because you do not want to put that seed of doubt into the jury’s mind that the lawyer has to live up to the amount that he mentioned at the start. Instead, the lawyer can tell the jury that he is going to show them what the value of the case, and the way the testimonies are going to support the request for that amount.
Hence, lawyers will do one of the two things. They will either ask the jury to award a specific amount of money for the economic losses and for the harms he has suffered, or they can simply say that they leave it up to the jury to decide, how much the victim is entitled to. Again, the effectiveness of this strategy will also depend on different variations such as where the case is filed, what type of case it is, and who is the attorney.