Not a week seems to pass without news of a giant settlement against negligent businesses. Whether it is the utilities of California being blamed for fires in the last three years with $30 billion in liability to the utilities, or the recent billion award against Roundup, the cost to insurance companies is steep, with the California Camp wildfire threatening to put at least one insurance company out of business.
Industry experts believe the main reason for these large payouts is that plaintiff attorneys have learned how to manipulate juries. As the attorneys defending the companies downplay or deny fault, the plaintiff attorneys explain to the jury how many millions that should be paid and to whom. This often guts the company or passes the losses along to customers with a hike in premiums.
The defense needs to reevaluate its approach
The main reason for these big payouts is juror anger. It often has little to do with the actual damage of the fire or the defective product, and everything to do with how the defendant's attorneys handle the case. Deny and deflect does not get it done anymore.
Creating a new defense
A different approach to handling the trial can yield better results for the defendant. We will go over each point briefly:
- Accept responsibility: Do not acknowledge financial liability, but own up to the responsibility of providing useful services and products before the plaintiff’s attorney gets to work on the jury. This approach immediately positions the defense as reasonable.
- Personalize the corporate defendant: It is easy to say a giant company can pay out billions, but it gets more complicated if it is a relatable brand and the company is made up of thousands of employees.
- Address difficult facts and emotion: This further instills a sense that the defense cares about what they did and understands that it is not okay.
Getting the desired results
This may seem counter to the litigious or confrontational nature of the classic defense attorney. However, they can often best serve their clients by diffusing the situation and keeping the liability under control.