Taking Your Claim to Court
Once your "big day" in court arrives, the decision of the judge will most likely rest on how well-prepared you are for your case and how strong your evidence is. Despite the prevalence of emotional court scenes on television, rarely if ever are judges swayed by strong emotional appeals. Instead, judges respect and give verdicts in favor of plaintiffs who have organized their materials and their arguments in a way which convinces the judge that the plaintiff has a true claim for damages.
With this in mind, it is vital to do your homework and prepare your case. It is normal to be a bit nervous at appearing in court in front of a judge, but bear in mind that the better-prepared you are, the less nervous you will be. This means taking notes and making an outline of your case, having your evidence organized and ready to present, and keeping your appeal short and to the point. Lengthy arguments do not win trials; good evidence does. Spend some time writing down what you want to say; never "wing it" when you arrive. A good outline or notes will be your best friend when you arrive at court.
Evidence can also include witnesses. You will have the opportunity to interview witnesses, and you may be interviewed by the opposing party or attorneys. In fact, in many cases, witness evidence is the only "real" evidence as to who caused the injury and the circumstances of the accident. Witnesses are a two-edge sword; good witnesses can bolster your case tremendously, but bad witnesses can make you look unprepared, or worse, untruthful.
Choose your witnesses carefully. You may only be able to call relatives and friends; if you do, be sure to talk with them about the importance of staying unemotional and factual about the case. Good witnesses simply tell their stories in their own words briefly and straightforwardly.
Be Prepared for Court
When you arrive in court, you should have, at a minimum, two extra copies of your complaint, your service proofs, and any evidence you plan to present. It is helpful to have this information in a loose-leaf binder or other organizational framework so that you can easily find anything that is requested of you.
Practice for your trial by having a friend or family member ask you questions about your case, and see how quickly you can find your supporting information in your file. If you cannot put your hands on a document or piece of information within one minute, it loses a lot of its value in arguing a case. Be very familiar with your paperwork before you ever walk into the courtroom.
Spend some time talking to your witnesses. Like you, most people are nervous about appearing in court, even if they are being supportive of you. It helps both of you to talk a bit before the trial, go over the evidence to be presented, and try to anticipate questions the other side may ask of you or the witness. Do not "manufacture" evidence or testimony; this will come out during the hearing and make you look very bad. Truth is always the best option.
In short, come to court prepared and do your best, and your case will go as well as possible.
If you are planning to do it yourself, "The Seven Fatal Mistakes That Can Wreck Your California Personal Injury Claim" by John Bisnar is a highly recommended read.
If you want assistance with your personal injury claim from an experienced attorney, call Bisnar Chase for a free case review today.
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