While many personal injury cases settle out of court, some will need to go to trial. Some insurance companies really do fight tooth and nail to avoid paying out more than they have to.
Hearing your case needs to go to trial can be stressful, so it’s important to know what to expect.
A great deal happens before the trial date.
We won’t just be sitting idle. We’ll be filing motions and conducting discovery on your behalf. You might feel a little frustrated at how long it takes to actually get the case to trial, but the wait can be a very good thing.
We will ask you to stay as available to our offices as possible. We may have questions we need to ask, documents you need to produce, and meetings you’ll need to attend.
There will be a jury.
In most personal injury cases there will be a jury. There will be six jurors who will decide twp things: whether the defendant has any liability, and the amount of damages that will need to be awarded.
One of our jobs as your personal injury attorney will be to participate in jury selection, a process known as voir dire. We will try to strike jurors who might be too sympathetic to the defendant so you get a better trial outcome.
“Preponderance of Evidence” is the standard.
In a criminal case the plaintiff has to prove the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil case, the plaintiff only has to prove responsibility on the defendant’s part. And the standard of that responsibility is “preponderance of evidence.” This is called the “burden of proof.”
It’s an easier standard to meet than “beyond reasonable doubt.” After all, the elimination of all doubt is theoretically pretty difficult. It’s much easier to show a whole mountain of evidence exists as to why the defendant is responsible for your pain and loss.
The case may not be over when the trial is.
All the witnesses have come forward. Examination and cross-examination has happened.
And you’ve (hopefully) won! The jury awards you a nice big check and you can finally pay all those medical bills.
Except the resolution may not come so quickly. The defendant does have the right to appeal.
The defendant may also decide to delay payment. If that happens, the courts can force them to do as they’ve been ordered to do. But you need an attorney who is going to stay on top of that process or else you may be waiting a long time for money you’ve been counting on. This is sometimes why settlement is preferable: settlement means settlement, and that means there’s nothing more to argue about. A settlement can’t be appealed. The check gets written and everyone goes home.
You don’t want a lawyer who is afraid to get in there and litigate, but you don’t want someone who goes in fists swinging to demand it every time, either. It’s important to have a long talk with your lawyer about his or her philosophy on handling personal injury cases before you make the decision to retain him or her. You want to know that whatever decision he or she makes, the lawyer has your best interests at heart.
Got questions? Want to find out if you’ve got a personal injury case? Contact David Leigh Law today to schedule your free consultation.