Watching the Syracuse University basketball squad get scorched by North Carolina was tough. It seemed that North Carolina just could not miss a shot. Their three pointers seemed to swoosh in just as easily as their shots from within the paint. And SU? They could not seem to even score a foul shot. Where was the miraculous Syracuse team we saw only a few days ago pull off an amazing come-from-behind victory over number-one ranked Virginia?
Yes, despite playing their heart out, the SU team lost.
Every good personal injury lawyer knows the feeling. That’s because good personal injury lawyers sometimes try tough cases, where the odds are stacked against them. They take risks. And sometimes they lose.
If a personal injury lawyer tells you he has “never lost a case”, there are only three possible explanations: (1) he is lying; (2) he has tried very few cases; or (3) he cherry-picks only slam dunk cases to try.
Here’s a confession: I have lost trials. The truth is that all good trial lawyers sometimes lose trials. That’s because we try tough cases.
In fact, more often than not personal injury lawyers have to try tough cases, not easy ones. That’s because the easy cases are easy to settle; the insurance company is glad to pay good money to get rid of a strong case. It’s when the plaintiff’s case is tough to win that an insurance company won’t pay and forces a trial.
I’m not talking about trying frivolous cases. Ethical lawyers won’t touch those. I’m talking about cases where the deck is stacked against the injured victim despite the righteousness of her claim.
For example, many juries are skeptical of a plaintiff’s case if her injuries are not visible. Common types of “invisible” injuries include so-called “mild” traumatic brain injuries and soft tissue injures to the neck or back. In those cases, the injury is often “invisible” in that it can’t be seen on an x-ray or an MRI. Further, the injured plaintiff “looks normal”. But inside her body or brain it’s a different story. There is often tremendous pain, headaches, confusion, cognitive deficits. But none of that can be seen.
Juries are skeptical of these cases. Even though the plaintiff’s doctor has testified that the injury is real, the jury might believe the insurance company’s lawyer’s arguments that the plaintiff is faking or exaggerating for money. That makes the case tough.
Yes, those are the kinds of cases we sometimes have to try. Those are a personal injury lawyer’s equivalent of the Syracuse v. North Carolina game. We know we have a shot at winning, but that it’s an uphill battle. We keep the faith and work our tails off and hope for the best outcome. And sometimes we come up short.
Hey Orange! Personal injury trial lawyers like me feel your pain. Congratulations on a great winning streak. See you next year!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.