Ms. Jones is stopped at a stop light waiting for the light to change from red to green in downtown Boise, Idaho. Suddenly, However, Mr. Smith crashes his pickup truck into the rear end of Ms. Jones' vehicle causing her to incur a severe neck injury.
Ms. Jones tries unsuccessfully to negotiate a settlement with Mr. Smith's vehicle insurance carrier, and then files a lawsuit against the Defendant for her medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering inclusive of her diminution of the quality of life and capacity to enjoy life.
The case proceeds to trial, and Defense Counsel informs the jury during his opening statement that his client admits responsibility for the cause of the collision. But does he really?
Having over 30 plus years of experience as a trial lawyer, I have seen many a case where Defense Counsel fights "tooth and nail" during pre-trial discovery during a case over the issue as to whether the Defendant was negligent for the cause of a motor vehicle collision but only to render an admission at trial Defendant agrees to accept responsibility for the cause of the collision leaving for trial the issue as to whether any of plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages were proximately caused by Defendant’s negligence. In other words, while speaking out of one side of his mouth, defense attorney admits liability for the cause of the crash, but then states out of the other side of his mouth that the issue of whether any damages incurred by the Plaintiff are hereby reserved for trial.
Is that really admitting responsibility. I think not.
If my grandson and I were playing catch with a baseball next door to your house, and an errant ball goes flying into your large picture window, what would you think if my grandson were to drop by and apologize for breaking the window, but when iwhen it came to the discussion as to whether he would be willing to pay for the damage to your window he says, "Well, although I admit that I did throw my baseball through your window, I’m not willing to pay you any money to you as a result of that throw until a jury tells me what the fair market value of that window costs!"
Is that in your opinion, admitting responsibility? I think not.
Accepting personal responsibility for one’s actions requires more than an admission of fault. Personal responsibility mandates accountability for one’s actions. Refusing to accept full and complete accountability for one’s actions is not accepting personal responsibility.
If a defendant admits that he is negligent for causing a collision by his own negligence but refuses to do anything about it until a jury imposes a verdict, how is that in any way accepting personal responsibility for the defendant's acts or omissions? In short, he's not. Personal responsibility mandates that the defendant be held accountable for the injuries and damages he causes to another. Failure to do so doesn’t amount to personal responsibility. The tactic is merely a defense lawyer’s ploy steeped in gamesmanship and constitutes nothing more than pandering to the jury.
You may not need to hire or retain an attorney at this time, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking the opportunity to obtain an initial free consultation with an experienced trial attorney to help you make the determination as to whether you should hire an attorney.
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