Personal Injury Litigation and the Game of Chess

Strategy and Execution

By John A. Blyth, Esq. – Hach & Rose, LLP   

Litigating a personal injury case is similar to a game of chess.  A personal injury lawyer must be prepared, devise a strategy, expect the unexpected and execute a game plan.  If just one of these factors is missing, the case, or the chess game one is playing, is in jeopardy.

Like a game of chess, there are a host of critical decisions that a personal injury lawyer must make in order to achieve the best result for his or her client. These considerations include:

The Opening (Pre-Suit)Before you file a lawsuit, it is important to conduct a diligent investigation of the subject accident and the injuries sustained by your client. This includes conducting a thorough interview of your client, speaking to witnesses, obtaining accident reports, videos and other evidence, and reviewing medical records.

….. In a chess match, you set the board and try to draw white since white moves first.  Assume your opponent, regardless of age or experience, is a worthy adversary.  Attempt to “control the middle” with your initial moves.

            Selecting the Best Venue – When its time to file a lawsuit, the first question is what venue(s) (i.e. courthouses) are available bring the case in? In deciding whether you should choose (or avoid) a particular venue, a primary consideration is the demographic of the jury pool in that location. This is a simple, yet critical strategic decision that could have serious implications for your client’s case at the time of trial.

…. In a chess, you need to have a plan of attack in place the moment you make your first move. As the match gets underway, you continue to develop control over your middle or “venue.”  You must think ahead, what four, five, six next moves will you make to effectively execute your game plan.

            Countering your Adversary’s Position – During the discovery phase, the attorney must uncover evidence and elicit testimony that substantiates your client’s claims and discredits the Defendant’s defenses. The Defendant’s lawyer will try to use the evidence to weaken your client’s case. At the time of trial, the attorney will counter the Defendant’s arguments by presenting the evidence to the jury in the light most favorable to the client.

…The same is true in a chess match. Each of your opponent’s moves must be countered while keeping to your own strategy. You are transitioning from the middle to the end game.

            The Jury Trial – at trial, the personal injury attorney’s goal is to persuade the jury that the Defendant was responsible for the accident and the injuries suffered by our client. The attorney will present witness testimony, expert opinions, medical records and other evidence in a clear and convincing manner in order to establish that the defendant was negligent and that the Plaintiff deserves a sizable monetary award.

….Finish your opponent off.  Make your final moves to ensure victory.

            The Verdict – Thanks to the attorney’s hard work and meticulous preparation during the pre-suit phase, in gathering the critical evidence, developing a trial strategy, and presenting the evidence at trial, the jury renders a verdict in Plaintiff’s favor and awards your client compensation for her injuries. Justice has been served.

…Checkmate! You did your homework, planned accordingly, countered when needed, and executed your well-developed game plan. 

About John Blyth:

            John Blyth is an attorney with Hach & Rose, LLP and practices in the fields of personal injury, mass torts, and complex civil litigation. He handles all types of catastrophic injury cases, including those involving motor vehicle crashes, premises liability, elder neglect, construction injuries, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death. He performs all aspects of the litigation from the pre-trial phase up to, and including, trial.

John can be contacted directly at or (646) 968-9803. For more information about John Blyth and Hach & Rose, please visit



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