Is Your Personal Injury Claim Heading To Court? Watch What You Wear!
If you pay attention to celebrity news, you might think from watching cases involving celebrities that pajamas (like those worn by Michael Jackson) are appropriate courtroom attire. Alternately, if you take your cues from actresses like Lindsay Lohan, you could be led to believe that sheer body suits are acceptable for court. While most people know that the above examples aren't acceptable for court, figuring out what is acceptable can be difficult. You also have to consider how your attire affects the jury's perception of you as a person. While clothing may not define you, you (and your credibility) can end up being judged by it anyhow. Here's what you should know.
1.) Use the "church" rule.
One method that many attorneys recommend is asking yourself, "Would I be comfortable wearing this to a religious service?" If the answer is "No," the odds are good that you shouldn't be wearing it to court, either. Anything less than the sort of attire that's acceptable for church is probably unacceptable for court as well. Part of the reason that you want to dress that way is to show respect for the legal authority of the court, the judge, and the jury. Jurors who have to take time out of their lives to decide the verdict in your personal injury case want to feel like their time is being respected. That typically means a suit jacket for men and a conservative dress or pantsuit for women.
2.) Don't overdress either.
Experts who advise people how to dress for court in order to make a good impression on juries stress the conformity of ordinary business attire. This means not overdressing either. By dressing in ordinary business attire, you remove distances between yourself and the members of the jury. Your individualism is usually a good thing, except in court; in court, it could make it harder for jury members to sympathize with you and place themselves in your position. Some experts even suggest that the appearance of wealth, through personal items like expensive watches and jewelry, can make juries feel like you simply don't "need" the money you're asking for in your case.
3.) Keep your injuries in mind.
While no one would suggest that you should show up to court wearing a neck brace that you don't need, do keep in mind what your clothing says about your physical condition. Your choice of footwear, in particular, can be problematic. Wearing heels or heeled boots may make an outfit look nice, but wearing them can make a jury question just how severe your back pain or knee injury really is. If you normally wear flat shoes because of your injuries, wear a nice pair to court as well.
Other things to consider are your nails and makeup, particularly for female plaintiffs. While you don't want to go into court looking disheveled, elaborately done nails and makeup don't exactly give the impression that you're suffering from debilitating pain and depression from your injuries.
If you have the slightest doubt about whether something is acceptable for court, the best thing to do is skip it and wear something else. It might also be helpful to call the court ahead of time and see if there is a specific dress code, which can help guide you. For more information, consider talking to your attorney about the issue before your court date.
To speak with a personal injury lawyer, contact a law firm such as Swartz & Swartz P.C.