While the majority of all personal injury cases are settled well before they ever see the inside of a courtroom, a small percentage of these cases do go to trial. At Parry & Pfau, our skilled personal injury attorneys understand that the idea of going to trial can seem scary and downright intimidating. For this reason, we wanted to take some time and to uncover the myths and remove the mystery of what happens when a case goes to court.
Personal Injury Trials: The Steps
So that you are as informed as possible regarding what can happen in your personal injury case, below is a general description of the process and what to expect at each stage during a trial.
If you have gotten to the stage of going forward with a trial, it is likely that your personal injury case could not be settled successfully by way of mediation or arbitration. A trial is purposed to provide the parties an opportunity to present the case before a judge and/or jury. The hope is that a favorable verdict will be won. Additionally, a trial gives both the plaintiff and defendant the opportunity to provide their sides of the case including highlighting good facts and law and explaining away or disputing bad facts and bad law. A judge or jury then makes a determination as to whom is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Based on this determination, the judge or jury awards a specific amount of damages - or monetary compensation – to the plaintiff.
The general phases of a personal injury trial include:
The jury is selected: A jury must be chosen prior to a trial starting. During jury selection – or voire dire – the judge and the attorneys for both sides will interview potential jurors. The prospective jurors respond to carefully tailored questions designed to reveal any reasons that would keep the juror from making a fair decision on the case.
Attorneys’ opening statements: This is the first chance both the defendant and plaintiff’s attorney has to present their client’s side of the case. The lawyer will present the facts of the accident and argue why it shows the other side is to blame.
Direct and cross-examination: Evidence is presented in the court and before the jury. This includes physical evidence (think medical records, photos, video surveillance, etc.) as well as in the form of testimony from lay witnesses and expert witnesses. First, the witnesses answer questions on direct examination from the plaintiff’s attorney. Then, they are asked questions on cross-examination by the defendant’s attorney.
Attorneys’ closing arguments: After evidence has been presented and witnesses have testified and been cross-examined, the attorneys for both sides are given one last opportunity to convince the jury to rule for their client.
Jury instruction and deliberation: The judge first provides the jury with its instructions before sending it to deliberate on the case. Jury instructions are unique to the case at hand. A final verdict is then issued, and an order is issued by the judge.
Let Us Handle Your Case
Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Parry & Pfau have experience representing the injured across the state of Nevada. Our lawyers will work tirelessly to seek the monetary compensation you deserve. Contact us today for your initial case evaluation.
(image courtesy of Sebastian Pichler)