NeuwirthLawFor Lawyers

The Punisher seeks vengeance for the murder of his family. I am not the punisher. My clients however do want their vengeance. They want someone to be held accountable. Often, while I enjoy the punisher concept, the fumbling, humorous, cross-examination of Vinny in My Cousin Vinny is better at accomplishing the task at hand. What is the task? The task is making the Defendant look so silly in their testimony that even their own lawyer is shaking their head or making notes to have the case settled.

My general evaluation is that insurance companies do not put much stock in their lawyers or their insureds when they know the person is at fault. The big insurers’ practice is for their lawyers to prepare the defendant for a half hour before the deposition. I am happy to be on the other side of that, but to me it is inadequate preparation for a deposition. I spend 2 plus hours with my client days in advance of a deposition to understand what they are going to say and how they are going to say it and generally to put them at ease.

It is rare indeed that a defendant will admit that they caused a crash, failed to make their property safe etc. When a defendant does admit fault, it short circuits the deposition and almost allows it to end with that admission. I find it refreshing, but unexpected.

Preparing to cross-examine a defendant usually begins for me with assembling the photos, police reports, hospital records of my client, and any statements taken by the insurer. Even with a tiny bit of information, I will know what the weather was like, what the area was like, what a reasonable person concerned about others would have done etc. A lot of depositions are fact finding mixed with cross-examination. So, while it may not be significant during the deposition, stating that it was snowing or dry may have significance down the road. Or, the defendant saying that they don’t recall a lot of information, but only recall bad things for your client suggests that they have a selective memory and usually looks silly.

Often, photos tell a thousand words. Even if they are harmless looking, they provide a lot of facts about what happened, where the crash occurred, how bad the situation was etc. I finished two cases recently where my clients’ cars ended up in a field or nearly crashing into a restaurant. In both cases, the defendant had to admit that their actions had caused my clients’ cars to leave the roadway.