Trial is scary. If you have a trial, and you’ve never been, you probably have some anxiety about the whole thing. Where do I sit? What questions are going to be asked? Can I bring notes?
You will have a long conversation with your lawyer to go over all of this before trial. We’ve been through it before, and we’ll answer all of your questions. There is one thing we need you to prepare in advance: a list of your non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages include the following, according to the Rules (Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-108):
In an action for personal injury, pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, or other nonpecuniary injury; and
In an action for wrongful death, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, care, marital care, parental care, filial care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance, or education, or other noneconomic damages
So, at trial, we will ask you some questions about what hurt, how it hurt, and how long it took to feel better. Recent studies show, however, that it is very difficult for people to understand pain. When someone tells me they are in pain, it’s hard for me to understand exactly what that pain is like. So, telling a judge that your back hurts has limited effect. You want to describe it in detail—was it sharp, dull, burning?
More important, we think, than describing the pain, is describing the effects of that pain. Did it prevent you from going out? Did it prevent you from working? Was it hard to get around? Could you drive your car? Could you play basketball with your friends? Could you clean your house? Could you pick up your baby?
Those things, those factors of inconvenience and incapacity, are the things that we have noticed will really resonate with a judge and jury. They can more easily understand how hard life is, and how it can be made harder when you can’t do the things you normally do, or the things that your family expects you to do.
This is why, immediately after a collision or other personal injury, we recommend that you keep a journal (title it: “To my lawyer,” otherwise we might have to disclose it to the other side during discovery). Six months or a year after your injury, it might be hard for you to remember how you were affected by the collision. It might be hard to remember how your children felt when you couldn’t play with them. It might be hard to remember how many nights you stayed in, instead of going out with your social group. It might be hard to remember how far away your doctors’ office was, or how much time you spent waiting to be seen. You might forget the fear you had that you would never get back to your status quo.
Why is all of this important? As your lawyer, my job is to convince the judge that your injuries were caused, through no fault of your own, by the other party. My job is to convince the judge that your medical bills are reasonably. Your job is to convince the job that the injury was a serious event in your life, and that you deserve to be compensated for it. The best way to do that is to give a thorough description of what happened to you after your injury and during your recovery. Tell us specific stories about your time in recovery.
If you can’t remember everything, be sure to ask those people close to you. Can your family or friends or co-workers remember how your life changed during that time? Put together a good list, and let’s talk about it before trial.
If you have questions about what is expected of you at trial, contact John at 410.252.0600, or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
For More Information About Non-Economic Damages: