Jury Trial Process of Car Accident Lawsuits

vehicle accident lawsuit

While the majority of car accident and other personal injury cases are resolved without trial, in some instances a trial is the best option for resolving disputes.

“Our right to have your case tried before a jury of peers traces back to the earliest days of our country and continues today.” says veteran trial attorney Lawrence D. Flick of Flick Law Firm.

Below is a brief overview of the jury trial process for an auto accident.

Jury Selection

The goal of jury selection is to obtain a jury that can render an impartial verdict. Juries are typically comprised of six or twelve jurors and at least one alternate juror, often identified through public records.

Opening Statements

Opening statements are each side’s chance to explain the case to the jury and discuss the evidence they intend to use. The plaintiff goes first, and the defendant follows.

Evidence

Evidence may be presented in the form of either live or recorded testimony of witnesses, or through photographs, accident reports, and other tangible items known as exhibits. Witnesses may include the injured party, the investigating police officer, or the treating doctor. How much proof is needed depends on the nature of the case.

Plaintiff and Defendant’s Case in Chief

The plaintiff has the burden of proving their claim – and so they present their case in chief first. Various strategies may be used, but a standard method is to call the plaintiff first, present the medical testimony and other evidence of damages, and then present the evidence that proves the driver’s liability for the sustained damages.

In other trials, they first establish the driver’s liability, then present evidence of injuries and damages.

The defense follows, often with the primary goal of attacking the believability of the case the plaintiff just presented. The defense lawyer may attempt to introduce evidence that shows the accident happened differently than what was previously shown, or prove that another party may be at fault. Defense attorneys will also try to minimize the plaintiff’s evidence on damages.

Rebuttal

Each side then has an opportunity to present rebuttal evidence after both present their case in chief.

Closing Arguments

The plaintiff’s attorney recaps the evidence that supports his or her claims and shows why the defense’s claims should not be believed. The plaintiff’s attorney also reviews the damage evidence and explains the plaintiff deserves to be awarded a particular amount.

The defense then presents their closing argument. They may highlight the evidence negating the plaintiff’s claim, and discuss evidence admitted that shows the car crash occurred in a different manner or that another party is at fault. They will also explain why the jury should award less damages then what the plaintiff requested.

The plaintiff’s attorney may be given a chance to make a rebuttal argument after the defense makes their closing argument.

Jury Deliberation

After closing arguments, the jury will then enter the jury room for the deliberation process, following instructions given to them on deciding the case. A foreperson is usually selected to provide some form of leadership during the process.

Verdict and Judgment

Once the jury has reached a verdict, the judge summons all parties to the courtroom. A written verdict form is presented to the courtroom deputy or bailiff, to then be given to the judge. The judge reads this form and announces the verdict to the courtroom.

If either party is not satisfied with the result, they may be allowed to file a motion requesting the verdict be set aside or to appeal the judgment within a specific time period.

 

 

Determining Liability in a Personal Injury Case

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In personal injury or tort, liability is the financial and legal obligation owed by an individual or a company to the other party for his or her personal injuries or wrongful death. The victim or the family of the victim is responsible for proving the liability of the person responsible for the injuries.  In determining liability in a personal injury case, how an accident occurs and who was at fault are taken into consideration. There are cases when numerous parties can be held liable for an accident.

The most common type of liability in a personal injury claim is negligence. Negligence is defined by law as the failure of an individual or entity to take reasonable care in order to prevent harm or injury to others. In the case of a car accident, a person who drives negligently and caused an accident can be held liable for the injuries sustained by the victims. In proving negligence, the injured party is required by law to establish that the defendant 1) had a duty to act with reasonable care and that the defendant 2) breached that duty that resulted in the injuries of the plaintiff.

There are cases when proving the negligence of the defendant is easy, such as the obvious negligent act of a surgeon who amputates the wrong limb. However, there are acts of negligence that are difficult and complicated to prove which may cause the case to go on for many months, or even years. Defendants who are potentially liable for millions of dollars worth of damages will likely invest thousands of dollars to defend themselves against a personal injury claim.

In a personal injury case, the injured party or the plaintiff has the responsibility to establish the liability of the defendant. It’s also important that the plaintiff can establishment the extent of liability and the extent of damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer is able to help you protect your legal rights and receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.

If you or your loved one has been injured on the job, it’s important to seek the legal representation of an experienced personal injury attorney.