When you suffer an injury due to another person's negligence, the logical step is to file a claim against the negligent party's insurance policy for compensation of your damages. Some insurance carriers will not settle with you for the amount you believe to be fair, and you can end up in court.
If you have never been through a trial before, you need to know what to expect so you can prepare. Here is some information on trials and how they work.
One of first steps in a personal injury trial, if it is decided to be a trial by jury, is jury selection. People who receive a summons to report for jury duty are selected through a process called voir dire. The potential jurors will answer different questions to eliminate anyone with a bias that could impact the case. If either attorney perceives a juror to be biased, they each have the option to strike the potential juror.
This process is crucial for you as the plaintiff. For instance, if a potential juror works for an insurance company, you would not want him or her on your jury, as they can have a bias toward the defendant in your case.
The selection of the jury is a long process and can take up a large portion of the first day of your trial.
Attorney's Opening Statements
Once the jury is selected, each attorney will make opening statements. The opening statement is a brief overview of the facts of the case and the evidence for the jury. This is also a time for the attorneys to tell the jurors how they believe the case should turn out, including how much money your attorney believes you should receive.
Once the opening statements are over, the bulk of the trial will begin. Your attorney will have you sit on the witness stand to explain the circumstances of your injury and why you believe the other party is responsible. When you tell your story, your lawyer will have you explain what the accident was, the type of injuries you have, and how the injuries have impacted your life.
Other witnesses will provide testimony as well. Your attorney can also call medical experts to expound on your injuries and how your quality of life is different. Other witness testimony may come from experts in your field of work who can explain why you will have difficulty when you search for sustainable employment.
The attorney for the insurance carrier will have the opportunity to cross examine all the witnesses, including you. After cross examination, your attorney can then ask questions to seek any clarification for the jury, if necessary.
This part of the trial can last for many days or even weeks, depending on how many witnesses are necessary.
Attorney's Closing Arguments
Once the witnesses have provided testimony, both attorneys will rest and provide a closing argument. Similar to the opening argument, each attorney will provide a summarization of the case and the witness testimony. At the same time, each attorney will attempt to persuade the jury as to how they should decide the case.
The case will then go to the jury to decide. They will receive instructions on how they must apply the law when they decide on the outcome. Jurors cannot rely on their own experience, but must rely on the evidence from the trial. They will then take their time to review the evidence and reach a verdict.
A personal injury trial can be long and exhausting, and you take a chance on the results going in your favor. If you have any questions about a personal injury trial, please contact the Law Office of Randolph C. Slone.