Like all choices in life, the question of whether you should litigate your claim has many factors.
There are also many different venues that operate in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, from an administrative or agency context, to the various appeals courts. If you are going to litigate, you need a team that knows the ins and outs of the venues, as well as the methods and steps required to prepare for a trial.
In the administrative context, if you choose to appeal an enforcement action or the denial of an application, you choose to litigate at the administrative level. These types of cases often carry with them the option of further appealing to the Superior Court. Prior to any administrative hearing, an Administrative Law Judge will read the pleadings, and familiarize him or herself with the facts underlying the action. During the hearing, the parties put on their case in the form of witness testimony and/or physical evidence.
There is no such thing as an easy case. When deciding whether to take on a new client, the attorney’s job is to review the facts and analyze them and the elements of the cause of action. That review is critical at the outset because, while the client may not want to litigate, the attorney must assume that the matter is going to trial. All of the attorney’s focus is on preparing the matter for trial – reviewing evidence and potential objections, deposition questions, and discovery demands, to name a few.
What if you are testifying in a civil matter? Preparing a client for deposition requires a few rules of thumb. Witnesses should respond with either “yes” or “no” responses and should keep the responses to five words or less. This methodology is opposite during trial – throughout direct examination, the attorney must ask open-ended questions. Sufficient trial preparation is necessary, then, because people are not used to the way the attorney asks these questions.
When deciding whether to litigate a case, the attorney must also apprise the potential client about their role and responsibility. Simply because a client thinks they have a good case does not mean that a jury will agree. The prep work required of a witness before a judge or jury is very important – witnesses forget facts and previous testimony, witnesses should understand the legal bases for the case, and the attorney and witness must be on the same page when it comes to testimony.
Further, when deciding to litigate a case, the attorney must also consider whether expert testimony is necessary. The client should understand the potential costs associated with experts and the impact an expert’s testimony can have on a judge or jury. In Rhode Island, medical experts are treated with a slight difference in the admission of their opinion. Medical experts must testify as to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. Other experts, though, must qualify their opinion based on experience, methodology employed, peer review and acceptance, and must provide their opinion with a sufficiently probative evidentiary basis.
The attorneys at Desautel Law have the experience and confidence you need to litigate your case.
To learn more about Desautel Law and how it can represent you going forward to litigate, call us at 401.477.0023 today.