While most personal injury lawsuits in Nevada and across the country are generally settled before the parties see the inside of a courtroom, a small percentage of these disputes end up in a full blown trial. At Parry & Pfau, our skilled Las Vegas personal injury lawyers know that the idea of going to trial can be frightening. For this reason, it is important to be as informed as possible regarding what to expect. Below is a brief overview of what happens when a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial.
The Trial Process
If you have reached the trial phase of your Nevada personal injury case, that likely means that your matter was unable to be settled during mediation or arbitration. The purpose of a trial is to provide each side with the opportunity to present its version of the facts in the hopes of obtaining a favorable jury verdict. Ultimately, the judge or jury decides who is legally and financially liable for the injuries plaintiff has suffered, including the amount of monetary damages owed.
Generally, a typical personal injury trial has the following phases:
Jury selection: Prior to a trial taking place, a jury must be selected. During this process - referred to as voir dire in the legal field - both plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys interview potential jurors. The potential jurors answer questions posed by the attorneys that are designed to show if there are any biases or reasons that would prevent that person from fairly deciding the case.
Opening statements: This is each side’s first opportunity to present their client’s best case including facts of the accident or injury and how the evidence shows, or does not show, liability on the part of the defendant.
Witness testimony and cross: Evidence is presented to the jury to include medical records, photographs, and testimonies from lay witnesses and expert witnesses. Lay witnesses and experts are first asked questions by plaintiff’s attorney on direct examination, and then by defendant’s attorney on cross-examination.
Closing arguments: After the evidence has been presented and witnesses have been examined, both sides have a last opportunity to convince the jury that their version of the facts is the correct one and why their side should win.
Jury instructions and deliberation: Before the jury goes into another room to deliberate on a verdict, the judge provides jury instructions - each unique to the case at hand - that must be considered when deciding the case. After receiving instructions, the jury meets to make a decision on the final verdict.
A trial can take a couple of days to several weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the issues.
The personal injury attorneys at Parry & Pfau are ready to fight for personal injury victims just like you, and have been doing so in Nevada courtrooms for years. If you or someone you care about was hurt due to the negligence of another, contact us today to schedule an initial case evaluation.
(image courtesy of Matthew Henry)