Seasoned personal injury attorneys thoroughly prepare their cases so they can present the most compelling argument at trial. If you understand how attorneys present their evidence to meet the legal burden of proof, it will help you prepare for your small claims trial.
Successful attorneys have years of experience in the courtroom. They know what evidence carries the most weight with a jury. You can learn from their experience, since an attorney trying a personal injury lawsuit in a higher court has to meet the same burden of proof you do in small claims court. Like you, they must show the preponderance of the evidence is in their client’s favor.
So how do these attorneys approach the burden of proof? They prepare. They study the strengths and weaknesses of their case. They try to eliminate any evidence that may interfere with their case, and strengthen the favorable evidence that will build it. Each minute they’re not building their case at trial is a minute wasted in the defendant’s favor.
When an attorney knows they’ll be trying their case in front of a jury, they prepare the evidence so it’s easy to understand. They avoid quoting too many statistics or trying to explain complicated traffic patterns. If they start to bore the jury, there’s a good chance they will stop paying attention. Good attorneys find simple and direct ways to present their evidence to the jury.
Pre-interviewing witnesses is crucial. Attorneys will review statements as many times as it takes to be sure their witnesses will testify truthfully and effectively. Witnesses must be in court on time, prepared, well-groomed, and ready to testify.
Attorneys study the photos, police reports, medical records, and other evidence they plan to use at trial. If the documents are ambiguous or technically difficult, they prepare an easy way of explaining them. They also consider what evidence the other side may have.
It’s impossible for you to know how much evidence a judge or jury will need to rule in your favor. That’s why attorneys take nothing for granted. They know if they don’t get in every piece of favorable evidence, there’s a chance the court will decide they haven’t met their burden of proof. Their approach is a full-on, more-is-better form of evidence production.
Notwithstanding the above, attorneys make sure each piece of evidence serves some purpose. If not, even if it’s colorful or exciting, it’s just not worth entering. An attorney only wants to present evidence if it will help build their case.
Successful attorneys are efficient when presenting a case. They want to get as much credible evidence as they can in front of the jury as quickly as possible. They often enlarge documents and photos, and display them on an easel. As each piece of evidence is admitted, they grow closer and closer to meeting their legal burden of proof.
Your Small Claims Trial
There’s really no mystery to meeting the burden of proof in your own small claims trial. You may not be able to enlarge your photographs and display them on an easel, but you can certainly present your evidence as clearly and effectively as an attorney in a higher court.
Make sure your evidence is well documented and in good order, and have plenty of extra copies to give to the judge or jury. If you have witnesses, make sure you’ve prepared them to testify. You and your witnesses must dress appropriately and be at the courthouse at least 30 minutes before trial begins.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. When you win your case, you’ll be glad you did.
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