BASIC OUTLINE FOR PERSONAL INJURY SUMMATION

BASIC OUTLINE FOR PERSONAL INJURY SUMMATION

There are a many approaches to the structure of a final argument in an injury case. One reliable approach is to base it on the jury instructions. Using the jury instructions as the foundation for argument gives it the authority of law from the judge. Here is one example of a very simple outline from a Washington state jury trial. 

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1.THE VERDICT FORM

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(1)Put verdict form on screen
(2)Go through each question & explain significance (without giving verdict amount)
 

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2.BASIC INSTRUCTIONS  (Show instructions)

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(1)Burden of proof: “more probably true than not”
(2)Credibility of witnesses
(3)Proximate cause (intervening cause) 
                  (4) IMPORTANT: Only 10 jurors needed for verdict

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3.LIABILITY & WITNESS REVIEW

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(1)Review key liability witness & evidence
(2)Review defenses

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4.FILL IN VERDICT FORM RE LIABILITY  (Show instruction)

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(1)Demonstrate how to fill in questions on verdict for liability & why:
(a)  Negligence  rules that were violated
(b)How rule protects people
(c)How it could have been avoided
(d)What difference it would have made if care taken
(e)the more dangerous the higher duty to be careful
(f)Defendant made choices – betrayal of trust and duty owed

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5.DAMAGE INSTRUCTIONS  (Show instructions)

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(1)Review  & explain damage instructions

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6.TWO TIME PERIODS  – Past and present

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(1)Important: Two separate time periods past and future
(2)Life expectancy

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7.TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF DAMAGES

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(1)Important: two totally different kinds of damages: Economic  & non economic 
(a)Review instruction language how and why  different 
(b)Show on verdict form

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8.EVALUATION OF ECONOMIC DAMAGES PAST & FUTURE

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(1)Review bills and economic damage witnesses & evidence
(2)Remind this only for bills – not harm
(3)Evaluation: (1) how bad is it (2) how long will it last (3) how interfering with life?
(4)Job: Fix what can be fixed, help what can be helped and make up for what can’t be fixed or helped.
(5)Fill in jury verdict with requested numbers for economic loss

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9.LAW RE NON ECONOMIC PAST & FUTURE

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(1)Use scale of Justice: Money must equal harm done and balance
(2)This amount has nothing to do with bills or needs
(3)Must fairly & reasonably determine amount & follow law:

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“The amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate for the damages suffered”

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a)Reasonably: “TO ANALYZE, TO THINK LOGICALLY ABOUT SOMETHING (Webster)

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b)Fairly: “TO BE JUST. IMPARTIAL. UNPREJUDICED.”

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10.DUTY TO EVAUATE EACH ELEMENTS OF DAMAGES

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(1)Show damage instructions
(2)Show jury verdict
(3)Explain meaning of each element

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11.EVALUATION OF NON ECONOMIC DAMAGES PAST & FUTURE

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(1)Review key witnesses & evidence re non-economic loss
(2)Apply evidence to each element  – Explain suggested verdict for non economic claim

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12.JURY VERDICT FORM

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(1)Show verdict form 
(2)Fill in requested past non-economic by element
(3)Fill in requested future non-economic by element

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13.CONSORTIUM CLAIMS  (show instruction)

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(1) Review evidence
(2)Explain concept
(3)Suggest figure – show on verdict form

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14.TOTAL VERDICT
 
(1)Add numbers & show on verdict form

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15.REMINDERS

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(1)Once: this verdict for past now and future
(2)½ justice is injustice
(3)A court room is a safety arena

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16.CONCLUSION

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(1)Important case
(2)Power of jury to set community standards
(3)Verdict can be proud of years from now

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