Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

What are the 7 secrets that most personal injury attorneys and lawyers know to increase your case value?

Really good and highly skilled attorneys are trained by mentoring and learning by defeat. As the lawyer gets older they become wiser and they learn the secrets of the trial attorney trade. The problem with finding a really good and highly skilled attorney or lawyer is that almost all lawyers think they are the best. This is not really true. There are good lawyers and there are bad lawyers. There are attorneys who think that they are better than they are. Many lawyers never bother to teach themselves from medical textbooks, OSHA manuals, commercial motor vehicle training manuals and other professional textbooks for engineering, medicine, safety, OSHA, FMCSR and other professional areas of study. Many of these other lawyers like to claim that they work hard and are experts even though they are not really highly trained trial lawyers. In the United States there are hundreds of thousands of attorneys who practice nationwide. Only a small percentage are actually trial lawyers. Out of that small percentage many of those attorneys are defense lawyers. Lawyers who have actually obtained a verdict above one million dollars are rare. Ask your lawyer how many weeks they were in trial for their longest trial. Ask them what their largest jury verdict has been. This is the only real way to find true experienced and skilled lawyers. These lawyers know what the 7 secrets are because they have studied since the moment they began law school and every year since law school they have studied harder and harder attending seminars and classes to learn the higher level skills.

Secret number 1. It is impossible for a lawyer to properly take a deposition and cross-examine a medical doctor or professional in their field of medical practice without reading a textbook that is in the expert’s own specific profession. The true highly skilled trial lawyer will read a textbook on prosthetics before taking an expert trained in prosthetics so that you understand what they’re talking about at deposition. If the attorney is taking a deposition of a neuropsychologist it is essential that they read a neuropsychological textbook to learn how that doctor conducts their examinations and writes the reports. If a doctor is an orthopedic surgeon it is important that the lawyer reads Turek’s Orthopedics or a similar textbook so that your lawyer can ask them questions within their field. If you are trying to cross-examine a doctor who has performed a nerve conduction study or an EMG it is impossible to properly take the deposition without reading a textbook on how they conduct their tests so the lawyer can see where they are able to fudge and change the opinions and findings. An excellent trial lawyer knows that a highly skilled doctor can take the medical specialty and falsely alter the facts to come up with an opinion on the plaintiff’s side or on the defense side simply by modifying their personal opinion. Lawyers that simply take the deposition of an expert without studying the science within the expert’s field of knowledge are no better than having a first-year law student attempt to take a deposition of a neurosurgeon. The first-year law student will walk away having gained no tactical advantage and no useful information. Of course, the problem with doing depositions like this means that the lawyer must spend hours and hours reading a complete textbook in one field of medicine that is the same type of textbooks that the particular doctor studied in medical school. Lazy lawyers don’t do this.

Secret number 2. Highly skilled trial lawyers know that you have to spend substantial amounts of money on really good experts that can convey their opinions and personally connect with the jury. Just because someone calls himself an expert does not mean that they have any capability of convincing a jury. When looking for trucking experts the highly skilled lawyer will find someone who grew up in the trucking industry, managed truck drivers and then learned the art of being a safety director over a fleet of truck drivers. A really good truck driving expert will likely cost more than $30,000 for one case. In one case, I had a case that involved a person being severely injured after diving. They ended up with a central cord compression of the cervical spine and could barely use their arms and legs. The case involved hiring a diving expert who designed swimming pools for hotels to avoid neck fractures. That expert cost more than $57,000 by the time his first deposition was taken. The same case required hiring rafting experts and lifeguard experts to testify about why a particular defendant failed to have appropriate safety training and supervision procedures in place. Without spending tens of thousands of dollars, the case would not have been a winnable case. Many lawyers do not have the ability to spend $50,000 to $100,000 per case just to try to build a client’s case into a good case that brings high levels of damages.

Secret number 3. Highly trained skill excellent trial attorneys and lawyers hire jury consultants and perform mock trials in order to learn the way that the trial evidence will be received by a potential jury audience. Many lawyers will use an expert that has a degree in psychology to help during the voir dire process and to help final jury selection as well as to monitor jury reaction to evidence as it is presented. The reason televisions show like the “Bull” exist is because it is an art form. It shows how jury consultants work. Again, the problem for most trial attorneys is that these types of experts are so expensive that many lawyers cannot afford to pay for the jury consultants to assist during trial and the client may not be represented fully or completely.

Secret number 4. Highly trained and skilled excellent trial attorneys have reviewed the many studies by the American Trial lawyers Association now called the AAJ and similar professional associations who have conducted dozens of mock trials studying whether talking about a client and their injuries and damages at the start of the trial helps win a case in contrast to focusing on liability and reckless conduct at the start. Mock trials change the presentation to talk about the big bad Wolf corporate defendant. Results of the mock trial studies were done in the 80s and 90’s mainly leading to the simple conclusion that a trial attorney should never start talking about the client’s injuries and damages at the start of the trial and should always lead with the most egregious evidence about bad conduct of the defendant. Once the jury focuses on the bad conduct of the defendant, it can help the jury increase the actual compensatory damage award because of their anger over the manner in which the big bad Wolf corporate defendant injures and kills innocent people.

Secret number 5. Highly trained and skilled excellent trial attorneys and lawyers have learned that visual presentation techniques at trial have to be mixed between audio evidence in contrast to visual evidence. Many lawyers believe that just because they say something to a judge or jury that the judge or jury will understand completely what they are talking about. Many studies by psychologists and jury consultants have led to the conclusions that approximately half of a potential jury pool is not capable of receiving evidence audibly and orally without also seeing the same evidence visually. Excellent trial attorneys are aware of the fact that you must present evidence in both an audible and visual fashion simultaneously so that the jurors who listen to the audio part understand the audio portion, but don’t get the visual part. The other half of human beings and jurors only understand the visual evidence and do not comprehend the audio presentation. Thus, demonstrable evidence must be a mixture of visual evidence like photos, deposition testimony on the screen and large blowups of medical records in evidence, which is then combined with the testimony by witnesses and experts. This allows the entire jury pool to get some of the evidence so that they properly understand it.

Secret number 6. Most excellent trial lawyers understand that juries only comprehend that portion of what they hear and see. Opening and closing argument becomes extremely important so that the attorney can interpret the case and apply the facts to the evidence and then apply the evidence to the closing jury instructions. Many cases are won and lost simply because of the failure of the trial lawyer to get a judge convinced to issue a particular type of jury instruction. Many conservative judges tend to follow pattern instruction books and never vary from what they believe to be the average instruction due to a fear of being appealed and overturned by an appellate court. What this really means is that the trial attorney must plan their entire trial by starting with the jury instructions that you hope to close with and then building the case from the jury instructions which tell the jury an instruction from the court as to what they should do.

Secret number 7. The best trial attorneys and lawyers must understand how voir dire works. Many lawyers take a casual approach to picking a jury and fail to go through all the necessary questions that it takes to determine the biases and prejudice of your particular jury pool. I’ve conducted voir dire for a day or longer and ended up kicking off more than 20 jurors simply due to their bias and prejudice trying to find a good fair and impartial jury that is going to listen to the evidence and set aside their inherent philosophical and moral opinions and treat your client fairly. This is an art that cannot be taught by books. It can only be learned by conducting dozens and dozens of trials and being trained by highly skilled lawyers who mentor other younger lawyers on how to conduct this art. They don’t teach the art of jury selection in the manner that it should be taught in law school. Many lawyers don’t pick up this capability until they are over 40 years old and have many jury trials.

Brad Pistotnik began trying jury trials when he was a summertime intern in the Sedgwick County District Court working for a famous district attorney by the name of Vern Miller. This was before I graduated from law school and I was given the unique ability to watch skilled prosecutors where I was able to co-counsel with them and start to learn the very unique art of being a trial lawyer. My first jury trial was on an attempted rape case with an older Assistant District Attorney. Following that internship and graduation from the KU School of Law, I opened my own practice in 1983 and began trying hundreds of bench trials where I became more and more familiar with the art of law.

I gradually began doing criminal, personal injury and probate trials to juries at a very young age before I was 28 years old. I began trying bigger and bigger jury trials which became more and more complex and complicated with bigger corporate defendants. I have conducted hundreds and hundreds of bench trials and jury trials over the years. I now mentor lawyers that work for me like Tony Atterbury and Jay Sizemore so that they can learn the same skills that I developed. As I write this in March 2017, I’m preparing to take depositions of safety directors and trucking company owners on a case with a motor carrier from Dallas, where Tony will learn more from me as I show him the art of cross-examining highly skilled safety directors, owners of trucking companies, and other executives that try and dodge every single fair question. A recent deposition of a truck driver took both of us from 10:00 AM until 7:00 PM. The truck driver lied for hours and finally broke down and told the truth. Getting a lying witness to tell the truth is a very difficult skill and pulling the truth out of a witness is an art that is developed over hundreds and hundreds of depositions.

At Brad Pistotnik Law, we train our lawyers in the art of case development and cross-examination of highly skilled experts and witnesses so that our lawyers can be at the top of their game. We all read medical textbooks, accident reconstruction textbooks, the trucking industry manuals and safety manuals and other rather boring specialized textbooks on different professions that affect a personal injury case. When we go to trial we are over prepared. This helps us to avoid trial and try to get a fair compromise settlement by negotiation or mediation because no one that is injured ever wants to go through a trial.

Brad Pistotnik Law presently has 16 employees including attorneys, paralegals, case managers and other skilled legal staff. All of us work together as a team to build your case. We will talk to you every day of the week and you can always call Brad on his cell phone at 316-706-5020 or you can call Tony Atterbury on his cell phone at 316-617-9237. We work in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois as well as other states across the entire United States. We are lawyers that care. We help personal injury victims that have truck accident, construction zone accidents, motorcycle accidents, auto accidents and motor vehicle related accident, fleet vehicle accidents, pedestrian and vehicular accidents, bicycle accidents and Worker’s Compensation injuries. We help in wrongful death cases and we will try to get you the maximum amount possible. We know how to get around the State caps in Kansas by developing economic damage evidence as well as Wentling damage evidence. Kansas has such poor caps that a trial must be developed from an economic loss standpoint with household services losses, wages losses, future medical losses, future medication losses and of course, where someone loses their health insurance we bring claims for replacing the cost of insurance over the remainder of their lifetime prior to receipt of Medicare.

We are known as Brad Pistotnik Law, Abogado El Toro and Pistotnik Law. When you need a knowledgeable and highly skilled trial attorney, Hire the Real Brad! ™ Call in the Bull! ™ Our toll-free number is 1-800-241-BRAD. Our local regular local line is 316-684-4400. We take emergency calls and we work on Saturdays and Sundays as well as and holidays. Let us help you win your bodily injury and personal injury case.