Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian Blog

A Road Map for Arguing Damages (Vol. 1): Tell the Truth

Posted by Dev Sethi | Jan 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

Woman's hand resting on a bible on court.

In previous installments, I have described three factors we evaluate as we decide whether a case is a good fit for us, and whether it is a viable case at all. First, we look at liability – who did what wrong. Second, we investigate the harms and injuries. And third, we must consider the available insurance.

In this new series, I discuss how we approach presenting damages – how we tell our clients' stories. These blogs will share some of the ways we work to help decisionmakers understand the full extent of wrongdoing and harm to our clients.

Today I start with the most basic rule. Tell the Truth.

This is the most important thing we do. And it is the first and last piece of guidance we give our clients as they prepare to testify. With judges, juries, opposing counsel, and insurance companies –  all – trust is key. We work to have an exhibit or piece or evidence to back up each argument we make. It is better to understate than exaggerate and get caught short. People must trust everything we say and do. So much of our work involves telling our clients' stories, and so much of that involves sharing subjective, personal information. Credibility is key, and if we were to lose it, that would have an outsized negative impact.

Frankly it is rare when a client or witness comes to court without some baggage. It could be bias, prior behavior, or an inconsistent statement. In that scenario, there is a choice – we can ignore it and allow our opponent to sting us, or we can acknowledge the issue early and attempt to mitigate its harm. We believe the latter approach is typically the wiser approach. Decisionmakers appreciate candor and fair play. And it is a naïve to think the issue won't come up.

In the end, if you tell the truth, including the bad facts, you build critical trust.

About the Author

Dev Sethi

Dev Sethi litigates and tries a wide-range of complex injury and death cases throughout Arizona. He has Martindale Hubbell's highest rating, AV, and he is listed in "Best Lawyers." Dev is also recognized as an Arizona Super Lawyer in the area of plaintiff's products liability litigation.Dev has been at the forefront of auto product defect litigation. He played a key role in uncovering the Goodyear Load Range E tire scandal and worked to hold Ford Motor Company responsible for the danger posed by their now notorious 15-passenger vans. Dev is currently representing families in product liability suits against the nation's largest corporations including General Motors, Ford, Pentair Pools and Invacare.


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