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Closing Statements in Massachusetts Personal Injury Cases

Let's set the stage. You have endured the insurance claims process which, in Massachusetts, typically lasts up to three years, mirroring the tort statute of limitations. That process alone likely involved your medical recovery, which may be ongoing today, and subjecting yourself to the questioning examination of the other sides insurance carrier and their experts. You have further endured the entire litigation, including deposition, and trial preparation, as well as having to testify yourself. Needless to say the whole ordeal can be nerve-racking, but if you are at the point of closing statement preparation, you've come a very long way and nearly everything is riding on the outcome of your trial. Let's take a few minutes and talk about what should and should not be in your closing argument in Massachusetts.

To start, let's talk time. Rule 51(a) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure provide that you get 30 minutes for closing argument subject of courts discretion to reduce or extend the time. Your personal injury lawyer is likely prepared to do his or her closing argument in 30 minutes or less or has asked the judge for permission to spend more time. The judge's discretion will likely follow the logic of the case. In simple cases that take hours or just a few days, the judge is unlikely to grant an extended period of time to argue a closer. However, if this is a case that's gone on for weeks, covering numerous points, numerous witnesses, and many pieces of documentary evidence, and judges likely going to grant additional time for each lawyer's closing.

Basics of closing arguments in civil cases are as follows. Unlike in most jurisdictions, the plaintiff in Massachusetts has the right to argue last. So, the defense makes the first closing argument an plaintiff makes the last closing argument. This is also what happens in Massachusetts criminal cases, for your knowledge.

Making a closing argument in a personal injury case, your lawyer should discuss the facts, issues, evidence, and all relevant reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the aforementioned. Their lawyer an discuss the credibility of witnesses and not just the facts relevant to the ultimate issue in the case. For instance, there may have been inconsistent statements set forth on the record. In that case, your lawyer they remind the jury all the inconsistency of the testimony of any one or multiple witnesses.

The law also follows logic in the following regard. A lawyer may not discuss evidence that was not ultimately admitted in the case. The piece of evidence was excluded an determined to be inadmissible, it would stand to reason that it is not to be discussed by a lawyer in closing. If that were not the rule, then lawyers could simply talk about the evidence that they were unable to effectively get on the record. That would effectively make our civil justice system in adequate. Its talk through an example just to hammer this one home.

Let's say the plaintiff was injured in a car accident when she was 30 years old and that there was no indication whatsoever that she was intoxicated, or had even been drinking alcohol or any other intoxicating substance at the time of the accident. Let's say further the defense lawyer attempted to admit into evidence the fact that when the car accident victim was 18 years old, she was arrested for DUI, she refused the breathalyser, and her license was suspended. Let's say this evidence was properly excluded by the trial judge but in the closing statement the defense lawyer, the referenced that although the victim of the car accident in this case was not found to be intoxicated at the time of the accident, that may have been because no breathalyser was given and that the jury should consider the plaintiffs prior DUI. That type of closing is impermissible in the proper step for plaintiff's counsel take would be to wait for the conclusion the closing statement and object before the judge instructed the jury. that would be the most tactful means of objecting, but there could be an instance where the statements made by defense counsel are so egregious that they would merit an interruption of his closing statement.

The lawyer may also not state his or her own opinion as to the credibility truthfulness many of the witnesses. Personal opinions or for the jury. It is impermissible for a lawyer the state his or her personal opinion the closing. Let's take another example to clearly illustrate the issue. Let's say that through the course of the trial one key witness had an inconsistent statement relevant to the final issue in the case. Would say it is the treating orthopedic surgeon of the party. An a prior deposition that ortho testified that she thought the plaintiff would fully recover. Them at trial, you are the testified that she thought the injury would be permanent to some degree another the plaintiff would have the partial permanent disability. When confronted on the issue at trial, the orthopedic surgeon testified that she did not recall making the prediction of full recovery during her deposition but that if she had indeed made that statement, she had nonetheless changed her outlook. These things do happen through the course of litigation an trial and they are the reason the jury is impaneled to determine ultimate issues of fact. What would be impermissible relating to this article physicians the defense counsel then said something like the following and closing statements. "I don't personally believe the orthopedic surgeon. I've been on this case for quite some time and I simply don't believe she's being truthful." Again, as in our last example, this behavior would be inappropriate, objectionable, and proper step for the plaintiff's personal injury lawyer to take us to wait to the conclusion of the defense counsel's closing statement certain objection.

It is unarguably true that Massachusetts personal injury cases largely settled prior to any litigation commenced. But, it is more difficult to maximize recovery when the claims professional on the other side of the claims process not believe you will litigate the case to its conclusion. When claims professional realizes you'll take the case into litigation and all the way through trial, the leverage the negotiation tilts further to the plaintiffs personal injury lawyers advantage. Take great care in selecting your Massachusetts lawyer. Call today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer at our firm.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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