Closing Arguments In Personal Injury Trials

After the plaintiff and defense counsel rest, each lawyer will have the right to argue their case to the jury. The plaintiff goes first, then the defendant. The plaintiff also enjoys the exclusive right to argue again. This is called the plaintiff’s right of rebuttal. The defense is given only one turn. While this might seem unfair, remember that the plaintiff carries the burden of proving their case to the jury by a preponderance of the evidence. If the plaintiff fails to make their burden, the defense wins.

Closing argument is the only opportunity counsel has to truly argue their case. While they must argue from the evidence, they may argue passionately. After closing is complete and plaintiff has made their rebuttal, the case is given to the jury to decide. The jury usually receives written instructions, which direct them on the law and rules governing this type of case.

Under the American Bar Association and formerly under Rule 7-106, in closing argument neither the plaintiff nor the defense lawyer may state or refer to any issue or matter that the has no reasonable relevance to the admissible evidence that was presented and entered into the case. While a lawyer’s personal opinion as to the fairness of the law is prohibited, the lawyer is allowed to argue based on and from the evidence and make reasonable conclusions relative to that evidence.

Finally, while each lawyer may comment on the evidence admitted at trial, the evidence or the law should never be misquoted or misstated. This would be grounds for mistrial. Further, sanctions may be imposed against the lawyer for engaging in such misconduct. It may also lead to a judicial finding of contempt of court, which can, depending on the circumstances, lead to suspension or even disbarment from the practice of law.

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