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Premises Liability: Trial Preparation Vital to Successful Outcome

When it comes to preparing a premise liability case for trial, the preparation and presentation of exhibits can go a long way toward achieving a successful outcome.

North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Scott Anderson, of Grimes Teich Anderson, recently wrote on article on the subject which is published in The North Carolina Advocates For Justice Magazine “Trial Briefs.” The article is titled “Presentation of Exhibits in a Premises Liability Case — A Practical Primer.”Preparing such exhibits for the mediation phase will not only increase your chances of successful mediation, but will ready these exhibits for trial. Proper preparation begins at discovery. Cost considerations in each case must be factored when planning displays and exhibits. Often, a frank discussion with the client is warranted.

Bringing a premises liability case alive in the courtroom through carefully planned and executed exhibits can make the difference in securing a winning verdict. That is why choosing an experienced law firm will likely impact your case from the beginning.

Proving Liability:
Using a hypothetical case involving grease on the floor, Anderson outlines a discovery plan that would include obtaining store policies, floor maintenance and inspection reports, witness statements, reports of similar incidents, and corporate reviews. (In some cases, this may require negotiation for a protective order when a defendant attempts to allege information sought is confidential or proprietary). Proving constructive notice of the dangerous condition is also necessary. Additionally, alleging a design defect may include requesting building plans, lease documents and building codes.

Proving Damages:
Acquiring pre-injury and post-injury medical records is done in similar fashion to other personal injury cases. Medical illustrations should be used to demonstrate any injuries or resulting surgeries.

Lost wages must be particularly well documented. Use doctor testimony to prove a client’s inability to work. Five years of tax returns should be obtained from the client — past earnings remain the best indicator of future earnings. Testimony from an economist should be used to value future lost wages and medical expenses.

Preparing Exhibits:
Well before trial, exhibits should be produced, numbered, scanned and provided to opposing counsel. Preparing standard copy packets for jurors, the judge, and other trial participants is still often the preferred method. However, juror distraction remains a risk as jurors skip forward or ignore testimony.

Document-intensive testimony can also be boring, and may not hold the attention of jurors used to flat-screen TVs and professional graphics. Consequently, a digital presentation can be an asset. However, whether the equipment is bought, rented or leased, an advance trip to the courtroom and a dry run through the presentation is vital. Nothing is worse than watching an attorney struggle with his own display at a crucial point in trial. Get the court’s permission. See what resources it has to offer. Make sure you know how to work the lights and blinds in the courtroom.

Other presentation options include: ELMO Presenters or Smartboards, Powerpoint and even new iPad applications can add professionalism to any courtroom presentation.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid.

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