What to Expect During a Personal Injury Trial
Updated: Jun 2
The process of taking a personal injury case to trial can be daunting. Knowing what to expect during a personal injury trial can help you navigate the legal system and prepare for the best possible outcome. This article will provide an overview of the different steps involved in a personal injury trial, from filing the lawsuit to the verdict and sentencing. So, let's get started!
1. Finding a personal injury lawyer in your area
The first step in bringing a personal injury case to trial is to find and hire a qualified attorney. You want to make sure your lawyer is experienced with individual injury cases, as they will be able to help you understand the legal system and provide guidance throughout the proceedings. Before hiring an attorney, it’s essential to research their experience level, fees, availability, and past successes. Additionally, it would help if you considered interviewing several attorneys before making a decision. For example, if you are from Orange County, you should find an Orange County personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the local court system. It’s helpful to interview multiple attorneys to find the right fit for your case.
2. Filing the lawsuit
After selecting an attorney, you must file a formal complaint against the defendant (the person or party responsible for your injuries). This document outlines your claim and includes details such as the date of the incident, the nature of the injury, damages incurred (if any), and the relief sought. In most states, you must also provide the defendant with a summons within a certain period. The summons notifies them of the lawsuit and provides instructions for responding to it. It’s important to file the complaint as soon as possible, as some states have statutes of limitations for personal injury cases.
3. Pretrial motions and activities
Once your complaint is filed, your attorney will begin preparing additional documents called “motions” to be heard before the trial starts. These motions can include requests for specific types of evidence or witnesses to testify at trial, as well as requests for summary judgment (dismissal of the case without a full trial). Your attorney may also engage in negotiations with the defendant’s attorney in an attempt to settle out of court or obtain a favorable settlement agreement. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the case.
4. Trial preparation and jury selection
As the trial date approaches, your attorney will begin to prepare for trial by filing additional motions, interviewing witnesses, and obtaining relevant documents. At this time, you may also have to travel to court to testify during a deposition or other proceedings. On the day of trial, your attorney will be responsible for selecting a jury from the pool of potential jurors. The jury selection process usually takes several hours and is conducted with input from both parties. It’s important to remember that in most states, the defendant has a right to a trial by jury – so you must have an experienced attorney who can help ensure that the best possible jurors are selected.
5. Presentation of evidence at trial
Once the jury is selected, both sides will present their arguments and evidence before the court. Your attorney will typically call on witnesses to testify in support of your case and also may introduce documents such as medical records, photos, videos, or other evidence that supports your claim. The defendant’s attorney may do the same in defense of their case. After both sides have had a chance to present their respective cases, the jury will then deliberate and come to a verdict.
6. Verdict and sentencing
After deliberation, the jury will return with either a unanimous or non-unanimous verdict. A unanimous verdict means that all members of the jury agree on the outcome; a non-unanimous verdict means that some jurors did not agree with the majority decision. If you win your case, you may be awarded damages such as economic losses (medical bills) and/or non-economic losses (pain and suffering). In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. If the defendant is found guilty, they may also face jail time or other criminal penalties. No matter the outcome of your case, it’s important to have an experienced attorney who can help ensure that your legal rights are protected.
After the verdict is announced, either side may choose to appeal the decision. If an appeal is filed, the case will be heard by a higher court and may result in a new trial or other legal action. It’s important to note that appeals can take several months (or even years) to complete, so it’s essential to have an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process. So, if you find yourself in a personal injury trial, make sure to have an attorney who will fight for your best interests and handle the entire process with care and expertise. Good luck!