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3 Arguments an Attorney CANNOT Make During Closing Arguments in a Medical Malpractice Trial in New York

It's time for closing arguments.

It's the end of your trial.

A trial involving claims of medical malpractice.

A trial involving issues of whether your doctor was careless.

A trial to decide if your doctors' wrongdoing was a cause of your injury.

You think you're going to win.

You feel it in your gut.

You believe you will be victorious.

You know there's no other outcome.

You expect the jury to side with you.

You expect and certainly hope the jury sees your case the same way you do.

The testimony has finished.

There are no more witnesses.

There's no more evidence.

The jury has heard all they're going to hear.

There's only a few things left to do now.

The jury has to hear closing arguments.

After that, the jury has to hear what the law is in New York for your specific case.

The judge will tell them all they need to know about the law.

Then it will be time to start deliberating.

Then it will be up to the jury to determine if you are more likely right than wrong that what you are claiming is true.

Then it will be up to the jury to reach a verdict.

But before we get to the verdict, I need to point out a few things about closing arguments.

First, closing arguments are just that.

Arguments.

They involve reasoning.

They involve logic.

They involve passion.

Your attorney tries to tie together all of the favorable testimony to lead the jury to the conclusion that you are entitled to a verdict in your favor.

At the same time, he must minimize the testimony and evidence against you.

Closing arguments are not an exact science.

They take lots of practice.

To get good, you need many years of experience doing it.

Here's are three arguments that an attorney CANNOT use when making closing remarks...

  1. "I believe that..."

  2. "The doctor in this case is very wealthy..."

  3. "My client, the injured patient, will be poor and destitute if you don't give her a verdict in her favor..."

Let's go through each one.

An attorney cannot argue what he personally believes the outcome should be.

Why not?

Because the attorney was not a participant in the events that led to bringing this lawsuit.

The attorney has no first-hand knowledge of what occurred.

Instead, his only involvement happened after the events transpired.

Also, an attorney's personal belief is not the basis upon which the jury is to decide their verdict.

Instead, they are to reach a verdict based on the EVIDENCE and TESTIMONY they heard and saw in the courtroom.

It doesn't matter what the attorney believes.

An attorney who makes that type of argument will get an immediate OBJECTION from the defense attorney claiming that such an argument is totally inappropriate.

The judge would be correct to say that such an argument is not permitted and say "Objection Sustained!"

The next argument that would also be inappropriate is if your attorney pointed out how wealthy your doctor is. 

The fact that he has accumulated money or wealth has nothing to do whether he treated you appropriately on a particular day or time.

Your attorney might want to show the jury that your doctor will not be affected financially if he is required to pay you a significant amount of money for your injuries.

This argument is not permitted.

If your lawyer raised the doctors' wealth during closing arguments, it will likely be grounds to appeal if he loses the case.

The next argument that is inappropriate is to focus on YOUR finances as a reason to give you a verdict in your favor.

"Hey folks, look at her. She's got $7 dollars in her bank account. You've got to give her a verdict in her favor and give her $1 Million dollars as compensation for all the harms, losses and damages she suffered. Otherwise, she'll be homeless and on the street..."

That will immediately draw an "OBJECTION!" from the defense attorney.

Rightfully so.

That objection will be sustained and not permitted.

The jury is not to consider sympathy when evaluating who is entitled to a verdict in their favor.

The jury is not consider the disparate socio-economic status of the people bringing a lawsuit or the people defending such a medical malpractice lawsuit.

That's not an issue for them to consider.

Instead, the jury must consider whether you doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.

Yes or no.

If yes, the jury must consider whether your doctor's wrongdoing was a cause of your injury.

If yes, the jury must then determine how much money you are to receive as compensation for all the injuries you suffered.

The jury is not to consider how much money your doctor has.

The jury is not to consider how poor you will be if you don't win your case.

Nor is the jury to consider what your lawyer believes the outcome should be.

To learn about closing arguments in a case involving a man who fell from his hospital bed, I invite you to watch the quick video below...

 


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer