Your personal injury lawyer will prepare you for your trial, giving you the tools you need to get ready for court. As with any lawsuit, there are two sides that must be heard. When you enter a court room with a personal injury lawsuit, each side will be given the opportunity to present their arguments and explain to the judge or jury why the case does or does not have merit. Eventually, the process will lead to a ruling and either there will be an award or the defendant will be found to be not liable, and no award will be given.
In order to have a better understanding of the process, it is always a good idea for the person filing the lawsuit to be presented with the various steps that go into a trial. After an injury often times passions can run high, and most victims expect to get quick justice so that they have the opportunity to move on with their lives. Hollywood has done a great deal of damage by setting expectations of speedy trials but most people filing a claim find themselves waiting a considerable amount of time before they have their “day in court”. This can be a frustrating experience especially once the other side starts prying into the incident and making it seem like it was your fault. It is critical to remain patient and get through the process with the guidance of your personal injury attorney.
A good personal injury lawyer will make sure that there are no surprises when you step into the courtroom. By the time the case gets to trial both sides are dug in for a long fight, and the victim may have already gone through depositions, questioning their point of view and examining any facts in the case. Frustration is natural, so it is up to your attorney to take control of the situation and explain the process in detail.
Briefly the trial will look something like the following:
A jury is selected. Both sides have specific types of people that they are looking for, and both sides will seek to exclude a juror who may not be favorable to their point of view. Once a jury has been selected and agreed upon, the judge accepts the jury and the trial can begin.
Opening statements are made. Both of the attorneys will then offer their opening statements in which your personal injury lawyer will present your case and then the defendant will present theirs. The opening statement is the preface for presenting all the evidence and testimony that makes up the case.
Witnesses take the stand. Witnesses will be called to the stand and questioned by the attorneys. The side calling the witness gets to ask questions through “direct” examination. Following this, the opposing side will attempt to cross-examine the witness, discredit them, and attempt to poke holes in their story. After cross-examination, the original lawyer will have a chance to question the witness again and repair any damage caused by the opposing counsel's questioning.
Closing statements. Once all the evidence has been presented, each side will summarize the case in their own closing arguments and the judge will give the jury instructions. Once you get to this point, you and your personal injury lawyer can only wait for the jury to deliberate and return with a verdict.
Trial can often be avoided through negotiations ahead of time.