Your Personal Injury Trial
While most personal injury claims settle, there is always the possibility that your case will go to trial. If the insurance company or the party responsible for your injuries does not make an acceptable settlement offer, then you will need to go to court in order to secure just compensation.
The following is a brief overview of what you can expect in the courtroom during your personal injury trial.
What to Expect in the Courtroom
Unless you waived your right to a trial by jury, the first stage of a trial involves selecting the members of the public who will decide the facts in your case. This process is largely handled by the attorneys, with both sides having multiple opportunities to ask questions and strike potential jurors until the pool has been narrowed down to the jurors and alternates for your trial.
Once the jury has been selected, then the attorneys for both sides will give their opening statements. Since you, as the plaintiff, have the burden of proof, your attorney will present his or her opening statement first. In personal injury cases, the burden of proof is known as the, “preponderance of the evidence.” This means you must prove that it is more likely than not that the other party (known as the defendant) caused your injuries.
Presentation of Evidence through Witness Testimony
After opening statements, each party will present its case by introducing evidence into the record using witness testimony. Each party will have the opportunity to present its own witnesses and to cross-examine any witnesses presented by the other party.
Once all of the evidence is in the record, the attorneys for both sides will present their closing arguments to the jury. Your lawyer will use the evidence to try to convince the jury that you are entitled to compensation, while the defendant’s lawyer will argue that you have failed to meet your burden of proof.
Jury Instructions and Deliberation
After closing arguments are over, the judge will give instructions to the jury (with input from both sides’ lawyers), and then the jury will deliberate in order to determine whether you have proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant should be held financially liable for your injuries. Deliberations can take anywhere from hours to days.
Finally, once the jury reaches a decision (known as a verdict), the judge will reconvene the proceedings so that the verdict can be read in open court. If you alleged multiple counts (theories of liability), the verdict could be either for or against you on each individual count. If the jury decides that you are entitled to a financial recovery based on one or more counts, then the judge will issue a judgment requiring the defendant to pay just compensation.
For more information on what to expect during your personal injury claim, read our previous posts and stay tuned for the last installment of our 5-part series:
- Part 1 – The Aftermath of the Accident
- Part 2 – Preparing for Your Initial Consultation
- Part 3 – Fighting for Settlement while Preparing to Go to Trial
- Part 5 – Collecting the Money You Deserve
Get Experienced Legal Representation for Your Savannah, GA Personal Injury Claim
If you think you may have a personal injury claim, we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call (912) 200-5292 or contact us online to speak with Savannah, GA attorney Clarke Nash about your case today.