One thing many clients do not realize is that they play a critical role in the preparation and ultimate success of their wrongful death lawsuit. Attorneys prove cases through documentary and tangible evidence, along with lay witness and expert testimony. So the client’s testimony, and the testimony of their supporting witnesses (often their friends or associates), is critical to the successful outcome of their litigation. This type of testimony is not cookie-cutter or the same in every situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. There many different ways of handling any given lawsuit. The evidence that theoretically could prove any issue in any case is vast and limited only by the imagination of the attorney and client working together (along with the rules of evidence).
However, The Rules of Evidence Can Be Tough
That being said, there are many important limits contained in the rules of evidence, which are rules contained in Florida Statutes that limit the admissibility of all sorts of evidence, from various kinds of testimony to documents, limits on expert witness testimony, and many other things. You’ve probably heard of the hearsay rule (although doubtful any non-attorney understands that rule). But did you know that there are more than 20 exceptions to the hearsay rule? And those exceptions are long and complicated. And that’s just one of so many evidence rules that a book on Florida evidence could only scratch the surface of the actual law. These rules are complex and often lead to motions and extensive arguments regarding why some important evidence should be admitted or not.
For that reason, before trial, attorneys sometimes file motions called “Motions In Limine.” The plaintiff or defendant can file these motions if needed. These are basically motions asking the judge, before trial, to exclude or admit certain types of known evidence based on the rules of evidence. After either party files a motion in limine, in which they present written lengthy arguments regarding the legal and factual reason the evidence should be admitted or excluded, they then attend a live hearing in front of the judge to present the same arguments orally. Success or failure on these motions can have a dramatic impact on your case. For example, the defense might file a motion in limine to exclude photographs of gruesome injuries on the grounds that they would be “unduly prejudicial.” The judge often has a lot of discretion regarding whether to allow potentially “unduly” prejudicial evidence. But some of this evidence can have a huge emotional effect on the jury. There is not much you can do to change what the judge decides, but sometimes your testimony, either live or via affidavit, can affect how the judge rules on various other critically important issues in your case. When that is true, your attorney needs to be in careful communication with you about how you can help.
Other Ways You Can Help
Clients also do not realize the importance of developing other evidence. Very often evidentiary development requires the client to do some legwork or preparation. For example, they might need to keep a careful journal about their feelings and other events to help them remember when they need to testify about their own pain and suffering. They might also need to meet with grief experts for the same purpose. Or they might need to find and talk with other potential witnesses or gather essential documents within their control (and which their attorney must have to present the case most effectively). All of these things have to be explored at length over time, carefully considered throughout the pendency of the lawsuit, and are unique to each case. Detailed evidentiary preparation is simply critical. As one of my former law professors used to say “a shot glass of facts is worth a tub of law.” You hold the key to many critical facts–but you need your attorney to work closely with you to uncover those facts.
I Will Help You Help Yourself
I will work closely with you and keep you well-informed regarding how we can best work together to develop this critical evidence during all phases of preparation for your day in court. In short, you can expect hand-holding and close communication about how best to prepare your case from me.