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Skills and Tactics for Case Preparation, Investigation and Discovery in New York. A CLE by Clifford Tucker. Part I

In September 24, 2016, I taught a Continuing Legal Education Class (CLE) to attorneys.  The CLE is titled “Skills and Tactics for Case Preparation, Investigation and Discovery in New York.”  It is available on video at Lawline.com.

Careful pre-suit and pre-trial evaluation, research, and investigation can make a significant difference in each personal injury case.  Attorneys must make early decisions in their cases to find and secure evidence for trial.  Attorneys also must prepare to counter and frame evidence.  Once in suit, attorneys make pro-active decisions to structure discovery demands to maximize effectiveness.

The CLE discussed techniques to structure litigation to improve representation and streamline practice so that each client’s case receives efficient and helpful treatment.

The CLE ran for seventy-five minutes, so I will divide the blogs covering it into sections of the presentation.  I also inserted select slides into this blog for your reference.


Personal Injury Law: Big Picture Perspective

One way to orient the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer’s place in our country and legal system is to look at the big picture.  The personal injury lawyer helps to shift the tremendous burdens from the injured person’s shoulders to the party which was at fault.

Consider the following burdens in our society and how the plaintiff’s attorney helps shift those costs back onto the negligent company or person.

According to a report by the Governors for the Federal Reserve System for 2014, health emergencies caused 37% of reported economic hardships.  Loss of a job caused 23% of reported economic hardships.  When a person is seriously injured, that person suffered a health emergency. At the same time, that person usually cannot return to work.  Personal injury lawyers can respond to the leading causes of economic hardship.

Economic Hardship

Researchers at the American Psychological Association (APA), determined that 50% of homeless people had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Of that 50% with TBI, 70% sustained their brain injury before they became homeless.  TBI-related cognitive and behavioral deficits (e.g., limitations in memory, planning, organization, reasoning, comprehension, problem-solving, impulse-control, and decision-making) lead to increased risk for economic and housing instability.  A personal injury lawsuit can help a person with a traumatic brain injury avoid homelessness.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Homelessness

The United States Center for Disease Control reports that New York vehicular accident deaths, in just one year, cost New York state $1.59 billion.  The amount does not include auto accident non-fatal injury costs.  $1.57 billion are associated with work loss costs alone.  $362 million in costs are associated with deaths to motor vehicle occupants (passengers).  $740 million is associated with motor vehicle accidents involving young adult.

NY motor vehicle accident death

The Journal for Patient Safety reported in 2013 that the true number of deaths associated with preventable harm to patients was estimated at more than 400,000 per year.  Serious harm appeared to be 10-20 times more common than lethal harm.  These numbers would make medical error the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer.  The medical malpractice attorney represents seriously injured patients and their families to shift costs back on the negligent medical facility and preserve the standard of medical care in the community.

Medical Harm

Nationally, OSHA inspects less than four percent of construction sites. In New York, there are only 71 inspectors to monitor all worksites in all industries.  Unfortunately, the government sometimes lacks the resources or political will power to investigate, prosecute unsafe contractors on job sites.  Personal injury lawsuits help workers become whole again after a bad injury, but also discourage unsafe practices by job site owners and contractors.

OSHA and Lawyers


The next blog about this CLE will focus on attorney competence.  If you have questions about the topics and issues in this CLE, or if you would like to discuss your case, please call or email us.