If you're headed to court, it's important for you to know that the facts of your case aren't the only thing that will influence the outcome of the case. That can seem unfair when you're the victim of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing – shouldn't the court be focused on what happened to you? But human nature being what it is, judges and juries notice a lot more than just the facts that they're given by experts and witnesses, and lawyers investigate more than just medical reports and insurance claims. As a result, your case can be made or broken by things that may not seem to have any bearing on the facts of the case at all. Take a look at three surprising things that can impact your personal injury case in court.
In the days before you and your lawyer are scheduled to appear in the courtroom, your lawyer will probably give you some detailed instructions about how you need to dress on the day your trial starts. It's important to pay close attention and follow your attorney's instruction. You may think that it shouldn't matter what you look like, but it does. If the jury sees you as unkempt or inappropriately dressed, they will take you less seriously, and they may be inclined to disbelieve your version of events. Avoid T-shirts, jeans, clothes that show a lot of skin, and anything inappropriate for the whether.
On the other hand, you don't want to go too far in the other direction. This is not the best time to break out your designer suit or haute couture dress, and you need to leave any obvious and showy jewelry at home. If the jury perceives you as being too well off, they may feel jealous, and that's not good for you. The last thing you want is for a jury to decide that you have enough already and don't need the compensation you're looking for.
Your Social Media Accounts
The very best thing you can do for yourself during a lawsuit is take down your social media accounts, or at least make them private, and don't share them with anyone new unless you're sure that you know them. Just as it's a common thing for employers to search for your public social media profiles before they hire you, it's also a common thing for lawyers to search for your public social media profiles when you're suing their clients.
Your words can be taken out of context and used by the defense to show that you're not as injured as you claim, especially if you post about an activity that you attended or anything at all about your medical treatment. Photos of yourself can also be used against you. Not only do you need to be careful about your social media postings, your friends do as well – ask them not to tag you in photos or mention you in posts while the lawsuit is ongoing. Even an old photo can be construed as new – and evidence that your claims are false – in front of a jury. Social media posts can also anger a judge. One man lost an $80,000 settlement when the judge ruled that his daughter's social media post proved that he'd broken the confidentiality agreement that was required for him to receive the settlement.
Your Group Membership
Studies have shown that people are significantly more likely to help strangers when they identify that stranger as being part of the same group that they're in. For example, study subjects who were a fan of a particular soccer team were more likely to help an injured stranger when that stranger was wearing the T-shirt of their favored soccer team. And they were more likely to help an injured stranger when that stranger's clothing identified them as a soccer fan, regardless of team affiliation, than when the stranger wore neutral clothing.
How does this translate to court? During jury selection, your lawyer may have the opportunity to find out a little bit about the people who are sitting on your jury. Your lawyer can then use that information to emphasize information about you that will resonate with your jury. It's important that you understand why your lawyer might be choosing to highlight some seemingly insignificant part of your personal history or daily life. The fact that you're a small business owner, for example, may be irrelevant to the facts of your car accident. But if the jury foreman is also a small business owner, it could be very relevant to the outcome of your case.
One thing that's even more important than these factors is your attorney's knowledge of these factors. Because your case can sometimes be influenced by such seemingly unrelated elements, it's important that you choose an experienced trial lawyer who understands how to win in a courtroom, not just how to settle a case.
For more information, contact experienced personal injury attorneys in your area.