August 31, 2023


It is no big secret in the big little city of Las Vegas that personal injury victims have a lot of choices of attorneys. One cannot drive down the I-15, Charleston Blvd., or any major street without seeing a billboard for a Las Vegas personal injury attorney. There are negative stereotypes of these “billboard” personal injury attorneys. This stereotype was evident at a recent jury selection when many of our potential jurors expressed negative views of “billboard” attorneys.

Personal injury plaintiffs in Las Vegas have enough to deal with to be concerned about the reputation of their attorneys. Amongst those in the legal field, Clark County jurors are generally known to be conservative and anti-plaintiff. Most people in general tend to be skeptical of anyone asking for money, and the only thing a personal injury plaintiff can ask for at trial is money.

As we tell each of our clients, when a plaintiff walks into a courtroom, not only does the plaintiff bear the burden of proof but must satisfy that burden in front of a Las Vegas jury that tends to distrust personal injury plaintiffs. The burden of proof and jurors’ bias against plaintiffs are not insurmountable hurdles to an experienced personal injury trial attorney. Insurance companies and their attorneys, however, know that these hurdles may be enough to scare away personal injury attorneys less experienced in trials.

Additionally, insurance companies know that litigation and trials are also costly, not just for attorneys but also for clients. Unlike insurance defense attorneys who are likely paid by the hour for their work, personal injury attorneys work on contingency.

While personal injury cases valued at less than $50,000.00 would proceed through the mandatory arbitration system, a process that is less expensive than proceeding through a jury trial, an arbitration case could still end up in a jury trial. In some cases, insurance companies will opt to take a case to a jury after losing in arbitration. Despite the additional expense, insurance companies and their attorneys believe they have a better chance in front of a jury than in front of an arbitrator. This is so because juries generally tend to be skeptical of personal injury plaintiffs.

In deciding whether to settle a case or take it to trial, insurance companies also consider the trial experience of the plaintiff’s attorney. Many insurance companies collect information about a personal injury claimant’s attorneys and their litigation or trial experience. Knowing that the plaintiff’s counsel has extensive litigation and trial experience, insurance companies are more willing to resolve cases with those attorneys without going to trial.

In many personal injury cases, liability (i.e., who is at fault) is clear; this is particularly so in car accident cases. In other personal injury cases, such as premises liability or medical malpractice, liability is not as clear and evidence would need to be gathered during litigation to prove liability. In cases where liability is unclear, an insurance company may be more willing to resolve a case where the plaintiff is represented by an attorney with extensive trial experience. The likelihood of a pre-trial settlement is even higher if the plaintiff’s counsel has a good success rate. 

Of course, having an experienced trial attorney doesn’t guarantee a settlement. When a trial can’t be avoided, it becomes even more important to have an experienced trial attorney. Attorneys who’ve gone through trial know the kind of preparation that wins cases, and that preparation doesn’t just start shortly before trial. Trial preparation starts early on in the case, even before a lawsuit is filed. Trial preparation in the pre-lawsuit stages include identifying and interviewing witnesses, gathering and preserving evidence, and making sure the client gets the right treatment they need. After a lawsuit is filed, more trial preparation occurs during the discovery phase of litigation. One of the most important phases of the discovery stage is taking depositions, and taking good depositions is critical to a successful trial. Depositions of defendants and defense witnesses and experts are crucial for impeaching witnesses at trial and getting concessions from the defense. Depositions not done properly with an eye towards how they are used at trial may prove virtually useless at trial.

Also, evidentiary motions need to be filed months before trial, and the court’s decisions on these motions control what evidence can be presented during trial. Winning or losing these motions can have significant impact on trial outcome. Experienced trial attorneys know what evidence should be excluded by law.

And, of course, trial experience helps win trials. Trials in general involve a lot of preparation in the weeks leading up to it – from preparing opening statements, closing arguments, witness examinations, jury instructions, and demonstrative exhibits to strategizing on various aspects of trial, including jury selection and order of witnesses.

Trial is about persuasiveness and not just merely fulfilling the technical aspects of a case. In some ways, trial is a mixture of both science and art. Like most things in life, preparation and experience matters. The experienced trial attorney knows the most effective ways to prepare for trial and to present a case in the most persuasive ways possible.

Dan Carvalho and his associates have decades of litigation and trial experience. Because of this experience, they are able to resolve cases without the need for a trial. But if trial is needed, they know and do what it takes to win the case. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of someone’s negligence, call for a free complimentary consultation and speak to one of the experienced trial attorneys at Carvalho & Associates.