"Is there anything my lawyer can do so that embarrassing stuff I did does not distract the jury at my personal injury trial ?"
The short answer is "yes." Unless your accident lawyer is lazy, he or she should file what is called a "Motion in Limine" or "Pre-Trial Motion" and ask the Court to decide which things the insurance defense lawyers can talk about and which they cannot. The trial court can do this, because the judge can decide that "the passion and prejudice" some issues may raise may "outweigh their probative value." In other words, some topics are so prejudicial, that their mere mention will cause the jury to "pre-judge" the case and not listen to all of the relevant facts and car crash witnesses. What kinds of issues are that inflammatory ? Examples of topics Doug Landau of the herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU has succeeded in getting excluded from a personal injury trial include:
- prior accidents (with no injury, affecting other body parts, causing only property damage, etc.),
- criminal record (no felonies or misdemeanors involving "moral turpitude," or juvenile convictions),
- other health problems (pre-existing conditions, psychiatric care, subsequent accidents affecting different parts of the body, psychological and other counseling, HIV, etc.),
- Litigation History (divorce, custody disputes, landlord-tenant, will contest, property ownership, Workers Compensation, etc.)
If there are issues that would distract a jury such that the fact-finders would be prejudiced in your case, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer about how best to either keep such irrelevant topics out of the trial, or to deal with them in an appropriate manner. By getting a pre-trial ruling from the trial judge in a permanent injury case, both sides can know the "ground rules" and avoid a mis-trial. If a mistrial is declared, and the parties have to come back to court and re-try the case, if the insurance defense lawyers caused the mistrial by running afoul of the injury trial judge’s pre-trial ruling "in limine," then an experienced plaintiff’s lawyer may be able to ask for costs and other sanctions. When choosing an attorney to represent you or someone you care for, it is important that they actually go to court, regularyl, for injured victims. Lawyers who do not go to court are not likely going to have the experience, skills and abilities to present your case properly.