So, You’re Going to Court: What to Expect During Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Did you know that, according to the National Safety Counsel, in 2017 there were over 47 million injuries in the United States?
It’s no wonder that people want to prepare to get what they deserve for their injury.
Some personal injury lawsuits get settled out of court. But what happens if you have to argue your case?
Keep reading to learn what to expect when you go to court for your personal injury lawsuit.
Going to Court: What to Expect During Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
If both parties don’t agree at mediation then the next step is to take it to court. A personal injury lawsuit rarely goes to court but if it does it’s good to be prepared and have an attorney representing you. Everything below is exactly what you can expect.
The first phase of going to trial is choosing a jury. The only exception to this step is if the case is tried only before a judge. During this phase the judge and both parties or both parties attorney’s question potential jurors.
Based on the potential juror’s answers the judge or either party might excuse them. They choose to exclude jurors that show based on their answers that they can’t be objective when making a decision on the case.
After the first step of selecting the jury, each party or their attorney give their opening statements to the judge and the jury if there’s a jury. In most cases, the plaintiff gives their opening statement first because their goal is to demonstrate the defendant’s liability for the plaintiff’s injuries.
The defendant’s attorney sets the stage for proving that the plaintiff’s evidence is false. The plaintiff presents the accident or injury facts. They walk the jury through what they want to demonstrate to get a civil judgment against the defendant.
The stage in a personal injury case where each side presents its key evidence to the jury is the case in chief. In this step, the plaintiff’s ultimate goal is to convince the jury that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. The plaintiff can call a witness or multiple witnesses to the stand to make their case for the jury stronger.
If and when a witness is called to the stand they are first sworn in and they take an oath, to tell the truth. The party who brought the witness asks him or her questions that are carefully chosen to strengthen their dispute. The other party has the right to question the witness if they choose after the first party is done questioning them.
If they do question them, the goal is to question their credibility and raise questions in the other party’s case and story. After they’re done being questioned by the second party, the original party that brought them to the stand has the right to question them again to fix any damage that was done with the opposing parties questioning.
Once both parties presented their evidence called witnesses to the stand and questioned them they put the case to rest before the next step.
This is similar to the opening statement only it’s the opposite the time to wrap it all up. Each party tried to again have the jury question the other party.
The defendant’s goal is to show that the plaintiff fell short of establishing the defendant’s liability for civil judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. The plaintiff’s goal is to show why the evidence shows that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
This is the step where the judge reads legal instructions to the jury before sending them to decide if the defendant should be held accountable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The judge at this point reminds the jury to use the evidence that the defendant and plaintiff presented in the steps above.
This is the step where the jury gathers together and consider the entire case that was presented. The end goal here is to agree on what the verdict should be. This is the first time that the jury has the chance to speak about everything they heard from the attorney’s and the witnesses.
Jury deliberation time varies by case some reach a decision in a couple of hours and others take weeks. This depends on how complex the personal injury case is and how severe the injury was.
If the jury isn’t able to make a decision and reach a verdict the judge can declare a mistrial which means the judge may dismiss the case or they start the whole process again. They go through the steps of selecting a new jury and going through the entire step by step listed above.
If the verdict goes in your favor that doesn’t always mean that you can put this behind you and move on. The defense has the right to appeal the case if they don’t agree or they can ask for a higher court to reconsider the final verdict.
If there’s no appeal receiving monetary compensation for the plaintiff can be a process. Your attorney will write you a check after they pay anyone that has legal claims to some of the money (lien) and pay themselves the percentage agreed on when hired.
After reading exactly what to expect if you’re not able to reach an agreement during mediation, how prepared are you feeling? A personal injury lawsuit doesn’t have to be scary with the right experienced attorney by your side. Don’t forget you want to make sure you have an attorney that’s expertise is personal injury with a proven record of going to court if they need to. At Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP, we prepare every case as if it is going to trial. That is how our firm has earned the respect of the insurance companies we do battle with in the courtroom.
If you or someone you know was injured and are looking for a personal injury lawyer contact us today for a free consultation.