According to U.S. Government statistics, only about five percent of personal injury cases go to trial. The other ninety-five percent of personal injury cases are usually resolved before getting to the court. This shows that many personal injury cases are settled before getting to the trial stage. Nevertheless, there are still some personal injury cases in which the parties involved cannot reach a mutual agreement. When this happens, your lawyer has to take the next big step, which is to file a lawsuit and prepare the case for trial. If your personal injury case does move into the trial stage, there are a few things you should expect.
1. Selecting A Jury
One of the first things that happens in a personal injury trial is the selection of a jury. This is true for all personal injury cases except for those that have to be tried before a judge only. In this stage, the judge will ask your potential jurors questions on general issues, as well as issues that have to do with your particular kind of personal injury case. The judge will then determine which of these jurors has the required knowledge in personal injury cases by evaluating their responses to his/her questions. The judge will then pick out those that will end up being on the jury.
At this stage of your personal injury case, both the defendant and the plaintiff can also eliminate a certain number of jurors by using a “peremptory challenge,” and “challenge for cause”. Peremptory challenges are the methods used to expel any member of the jury for simple reasons such as a gender bias or ethnicity bias—someone who has shown that they feel a certain way about people of color, for example. With a challenge for cause, the plaintiff or the defendant can expel a juror that exhibit signs that he or she cannot perform well in making the decisions for the personal injury case.
2. The Opening Statement Stage
Once a jury has been selected for your personal injury case, this is the next stage in your personal injury trial. Here, two opening statements will be presented. One of the statements comes from the defendant’s lawyer, and the other from the plaintiff’s lawyer. At this stage, there is no need for witnesses, nor is there a need for showcasing any evidence. In personal injury trials, the plaintiff must show the legal liability of the injury. Therefore, the plaintiff is allowed to give their opening statements first.
During an opening statement, the plaintiff demonstrates facts of the incident, and the part they claim the defendant played in it. When this is done, the lawyer representing the defendant will then give the jury a statement revealing the defendant’s version of the incident. If, however, the personal injury case involves more than two parties, in the sense that a plaintiff sues more than one defendant, or two or more plaintiffs sue a defendant, the lawyer representing each party may table this opening statement to the hearing of everyone.
3. Witness Testimony And Cross-Examination Stage
This stage can also be referred to as the “case-in-chief” stage. At this point, each party involved in the personal injury claim brings their major evidence to the jury. This is the point where the plaintiff’s attorney tries to convince jury that the defendant is accountable by the law for the injuries inflicted on the plaintiff. At this stage, the plaintiff brings in witnesses to testify to this fact. To successfully convince the jury, the plaintiff can display some physical evidence to the entire court, including medical reports, documents, photographs, police reports, and other items. The defendant may also bring their evidence and witnesses to prove their innocence as well. Regardless of whose witness is testifying, all testimonies must follow the process below.
1. The witness is asked to stand after which they take an oath swearing to speak the truth.
2. The party who is in charge now begins questioning the witness. A method known as the direct examination is used, and the attorney tries to ask questions that will solidify the party’s point.
3. When this is done, the other party is allowed to ask this witness a set of questions in a process known as cross-examination. This is done to find a way to penetrate and weaken the witness’ point in the case.
4. Once the cross-examination is completed, the other party can then ask him some more questions through a method called re-direct examination. The purpose of this is to repair any loopholes that the opposing party has created during the cross-examination.
4. The Closing Argument Stage
The closing statement allows each party to sum things up and make a conclusion in favor of their client. This is the last stage where both parties are allowed to prove their points. At this stage, the plaintiff tries to show the jury why the defendant is legally responsible for his injuries and damages. Likewise, the defendant tries to prove why he is not guilty of the plaintiff’s claim.
5. The Jury Instruction
This is where the judge tells the jury of the legal standard that must be followed to arrive at a final verdict. The judge is allowed to decide the appropriate standard that will apply to the case. After making a decision, the judge will then brief the jury and let them give the final judgment.
6. The Jury Deliberations And The Final Verdict
Once the judge is done giving the jury the legal standard he thinks is appropriate for the personal injury claim, the jury is left to make the final decision. The jurors make deliberations, thinking and discussing as a group, trying to bring out the right judgment for the personal injury claim. The jury tries to determine if the defendant truly is responsible for the plaintiff’s claim. This is when members of the jury discuss the matter and decide whether the defendant is responsible and should compensate the plaintiff. This can last for several hours to several weeks, depending on how complicated the case is. Once the jury has come up with a decision on why they think it should be so, they will then give their final verdict.
If you have been injured due to no fault of your own, you may have to go to trial in order to get the compensation you deserve. A successful outcome is often dependent on the quality of your attorney. Mountain State Law in Clarksburg, West Virginia is a personal injury attorney experienced in working with auto accidents, commercial truck collisions, work-related injuries, severe dog bite injuries and more.
Call the lawyers at Mountain State Law at 304-715-3800 or request a free consultation by clicking HERE.