While it is true that most personal injury claims settle outside of court, there are those that have to be heard in front of a judge or jury in order to reach a settlement. Whether it is because you cannot agree on an amount with the insurer, or the insurer refuses to cooperate, the reasons for going to trial are only part of the equation when it comes to understanding how your case will play out in court.
Unfortunately, the court process is much longer than outside negotiations – and by the time your case goes to trial, you may feel as though you are emotionally and financially drained. Despite these feelings, it is important to stay positive and look to your attorney for advice. Your attorney can help you understand the process as well as alleviate any frustrations regarding the timeline – because going to court could pay off in the end.
When your case goes to court, you will have the option of having the case heard by a jury or the judge. If you choose to have your claim heard in front of a jury, the process of selecting a jury will begin. The attorneys from each side will have the opportunity to ask potential jurors questions – with the goal of selecting a juror who understands their clients’ claim, and making sure that biases are left outside of the court.
Once the jurors have been selected and the jury is seated, your judge will then give them directions as to how they will assess the claim.
This phase of the trial involves the defense and plaintiff each presenting their opening statement. The attorneys will present their views of the case and give a preview of what jurors can expect. While on TV these opening statements seem rather dramatic, in reality, they are not as emotional and more so offer jurors a factual presentation about what they will see as the trial progresses.
Witness presentation is a critical component of a trial. This is where your witnesses – such as doctors, accident experts, etc. – will give their expert opinion on the case. The defense will then have their own set of witnesses, which will include experts and possibly character witnesses. Character witnesses may be used to discredit your injuries, or attempt to sway the jury to think that you are just out for money rather than truly injured.
A potential list of witnesses who will be at your trial include:
- People close to you who can testify about how your injuries have affected your lifestyle.
- Accident witnesses – including eyewitnesses to the accident.
- The defendant – if he or she wishes to testify.
- Police or emergency personnel who were present on the scene.
- Medical providers and medical experts who can testify to your injuries.
- Any other witnesses who can provide useful insight.
In addition to witnesses, your attorney will present evidence to the court, such as medical bills, medical records, photographs, etc. These documents will help establish the damages in your case and the validity of your claim.
This is when each side will sum up what the jury has heard, and what they should do. Then, the judge will provide jurors with instructions as to what they are to decide during deliberations.
Have You Been Injured? Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, you will need an experienced attorney by your side. An attorney can help you negotiate and hopefully settle long before your case goes to trial. To explore your options, contact an attorney today at The Slocum Firm, PC. Schedule your consultation by calling us now at 888-367-4577, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.