A personal injury trial is held when a plaintiff wishes to sue a defendant who is believed to hold fault in a personal accident or injury. The plaintiff must supply evidence and the judge makes the final decision. The defendant has a chance to counter-claim or refute any claims made by the plaintiff. If the judge supports the claim, the judge will then decide the amount that must be paid to the plaintiff.
There are six steps that are followed during a personal injury trial. Take a look below for brief details on each step. This is what you can expect to experience during your personal injury trial.
1) Jury Selection
One of the first things in any court trial is the jury selection process. The judge gets to question prospective jurors. In most cases, you and your client’s legal representatives get to question the prospective jurors. This is done to ensure they are mentally capable and unbiased.
Both parties have the ability to eliminate prospective candidates for simple reasons, such as gender and biased views. This is done to ensure your personal injury trial is fairly handled. Your final cast of jurors will consist of people your lawyer and the judge deem as acceptable, and that won’t have any particular bias against you.
2) Trade Opening Statements
Both your lawyer and your opposition’s legal representative will present an opening statement to the jurors. This stage does not include any showing of any evidence or examining of any witnesses. Typically, the plaintiff will give their statement first and the defendant will wait for them to finish before responding to their claims.
The facts of the injury must be given during the plaintiff’s statement. This must include the irresponsibility of the defendant, leading to plaintiff damages. This serves as a “catch-up” for the information the plaintiff plans to present in the actual trial, to influence a civil judgment in their favor.
3) Examine the Witnesses
The main evidence is exchanged and the arguments are made to the jury. At this time, the witnesses are brought to the stand and sworn-in to testify. The witnesses may be asked simple questions, but physical evidence may be shown to them as a part of the questioning in more serious personal injury trials. The defendant’s lawyer has the chance to cross-examine the witness after the plaintiff’s lawyer has finished.
Basically, the examination process starts with a direct examination from the party who requested the witness. A cross-examination is then done by the opposing party, unless their lawyer decides to stand pat and avoid asking any questions. A re-direct examination may be done by the original questioner as a way to better address facts pointed out or left hidden during the cross-examination.
4) Trade Closing Arguments
You and your opposition had the chance to explain the specifics of the personal injury case. You now have the chance to create a summary of the most important points. This serves as a recap for the jury, giving them a chance to take in all important facts from both parties.
During the closing argument, the plaintiff must attempt to prove the opposition is legally responsible in the accident or injury. The defendant must attempt to prove no liability, whether with concrete evidence or through holes in the plaintiff’s story.
5) Jury Instruction
This is where the judge presents the jury with the legal material they need to make the appropriate decision. This will serve as guidance for making the final judgment on whether the defendant is responsible for the accident or injury. Your judge will be responsible for determining the legal standards that must be used to measure responsibility by the respective jurors. This will factor by the specifics of your personal injury claim.
Both parties can give insight and speak their arguments on the matter. The judge will give formal jury instruction, which ensures the jury uses the legal variables properly and an appropriate decision is made. More importantly, the judge will outline specific types of claims, damages, and etc., so nothing gets stuck in the grey area during your trial.
6) Jury Verdict
The jury must deliberate together privately with the information they have and the legal standards they were given from the judge. This deliberation process can go on for as long as the jurors need, in order to achieve a uniform decision. When the votes are in place, the tally will be made and the judge will read the decision.
Unanimous decisions are always preferred, but some states do not require them. It may only be necessary to get something like a nine-to-three result from the trial, in order to execute the verdict. You can read up on the laws and regulations governing personal injury trials in your state to know exactly what to expect.