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Definition of Opening Statement

An opening statement is made in court by each of the attorneys in a personal injury case to describe the case and convince the jury or judge to find in their favor. The opening statement outlines the facts of the injury case and should not be argumentative. In a civil case the plaintiff will have the first opening statement because they are the party with the responsibility to meet the burden of proof, which is generally through a preponderance of evidence. A lawyer may also choose not to provide an opening statement.

The opening statement should clearly outline the theory of the plaintiff's case and have a coherent argument for what the plaintiff hopes to prove. Because the opening statement is the first time the lawyer will talk to the jury it is important that it is clear and engaging. Some lawyers will develop a word for word opening statement while others will outline the points they want to discuss.

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