You don’t. It depends on too many factors, including some that may change on an hour to hour basis.
(A lawyer once said that before he tried a case, it would be very helpful to know whether the judge had had a fight with his wife that morning. The same is true of the jurors – and there are eight of them.)
But still, a lawyer has to be able to make a smart guess about this – because the insurance company is going to be making an offer to settle the case, and you want to know whether to take it.
Here is what I tell clients – and I also tell it to people getting ready to go to trial in a lawsuit, when their lawyers ask me to be a mediator for them, that is, to supervise their negotiations.
Think of yourself as having a deposit in a “Credibility Bank.” The jury is the banker – they decide whether to “honor your check”. That is, the jury decides whether to believe you.
Every lawsuit has some “difficult” truth, or “bad thing” that might be important. It may be
- a surveillance tape made by an insurance investigator that shows you chopping wood a month after the accident
- a conviction for a bad check (yes, an Ohio jury will be allowed to hear about that if it happened in the last 10 years)
- a warning from in your doctor’s records about taking too much prescription drugs, not reporting income when you want to recover lost wages
- a visit to the doctor for a neck problem a week before the accident when you are claiming that a neck surgery was related to the accident
or a thousand other things.
And everyone has an explanation for this bad thing. “I just felt so frustrated – my wife was doing all the work, I had to do something, and I spent the next week in bed”; “My brother signed that check over to me, he told me it was good, and the prosecutor told me that if I didn’t plead guilty to the misdemeanor he would charge my brother with a felony”… you can guess the rest of the explanations.
I tell my clients that, if the explanation is good and they are feeling lucky, the jury might let them draw on their “credibility” account once. Maybe, if they are really lucky, twice. But not to count on more than that.
There might be things about you that let you draw a bigger “check” on your credibility account. For instance, if you are a combat veteran, or an athlete, or a policeman or firefighter, or if you are a member of a profession known for telling the truth. (When a lawyer wants to emphasize the strength of his case, he says that he had a “busload of nuns” as witnesses.)
It is a little different with truck lawsuits, but not much. People don’t like trucks, and usually don’t give truckers the same amount of leeway that they give other drivers. You can assume that the jury will be less likely to believe the trucker than an injured person. But you – the injured person – still have the burden of proof.
Do you want an even simpler explanation? In I love Lucy, an old television series, Ricky Ricardo, the husband, used to tell Lucy, his wife “You got some ‘splainin’ to do.” If you have to ‘splain’ too much, you have a problem.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I do everything I can to show that the trucker is lying – it makes it easier for my client to get what he deserves. If you’ve been hurt by a truck, give me, a Cincinnati injury attorney, a call. My phone is 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.