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What To Expect If Your Personal Injury Case Goes To Trial

Even though most personal injury lawsuits will settle before trial, there are some cases that will have to be tried. This is typically because of the insurance company being unreasonable in the offers it makes, or there may be complicated legal or factual questions that a jury must decide. According to our friends at Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law, this post is intended to give you a brief overview of what to expect if your case goes to trial from an experienced personal injury trial lawyer:

What happens at trial?

Your lawyer will prepare you for the logistics of trial ahead of time, including what to wear and which courtroom you will need to be in. Typically, the first step in the trial is for the judge to hear any pre-trial motions that are pending which may limit what evidence is admissible or what arguments the lawyers can make. After those motions are heard and decided, the jury will come in and the jury selection process begins. The judge will question the prospective jurors first, and then each lawyer gets to ask questions about the jurors’ qualifications and background. Your lawyer will likely include you in deciding whether to excuse certain jurors or not, and this process will continue until 12 jurors are selected.

After jury selection ends, the lawyers will give opening statements to forecast the evidence for the jury. The plaintiff’s attorney goes first, followed by the defendant. The evidence will also be presented in this fashion, with the plaintiff going first (due to the burden of proof), calling witnesses or presenting exhibits for the judge and jury to consider. As the injured party, you will have to testify about what happened and the extent of your injuries and their effect on your life. Typically, after the plaintiff rests its case, the defendant will move to dismiss the case. The judge will decide whether to do so or not, and then the defendant will have a chance to put on evidence, but the defendant is not required to present any evidence. After all the evidence has been heard, the lawyers will discuss jury instructions with the judge outside the presence of the jury. The jury will then hear the closing arguments from the lawyers and retire to deliberate the case. The jury will then return a verdict and all parties have an opportunity to appeal the verdict if there is a legal basis for such an appeal.

How long does a trial take?

Jury trials can take as little as one day or as long as several weeks or months. Typical personal injury cases, such as car accidents, will take less than a week unless there are catastrophic injuries or complicated legal issues. It is extremely important that you have a personal injury lawyer with trial experience represent you in your case to ensure that you have the best chance at a positive outcome and the fair compensation you deserve. Call an experienced personal injury attorney today to discuss your case for free!

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