The 5 Stages Of A Personal Injury Trial

Posted on: 12 March 2015

While most personal injury cases are settled outside of the court room, some cases will ultimately make it to the trial phase. If your case is not settled before trial, it is important for you to know what to expect during your personal injury trial with help of personal injury lawyers. Below you will learn more about the five stages that will ultimately result in a jury issuing a verdict in your case.

Stage 1: Choosing A Jury

Unless you have waived your right to a jury trial, the first step in the trial process will be to select a jury to hear the case. This is done by allowing both your personal injury lawyer and the defendant's lawyer to question a pool of potential jurors in order to try and identify jurors which are most likely to side with their client. Each lawyer will be given a specific number of peremptory challenges which they can use to dismiss a juror without showing cause. Once these challenges have been used, a lawyer will only be able to dismiss a juror if they are able to demonstrate to the court that the juror is in fact biased against their client. After successfully selecting a jury, your trial will move on to the second stage.

Stage 2: Making An Opening Statement

The first thing that will happen after your trial officially starts is that both lawyers will make opening statements. These statements are their chance to directly address the jury and provide a basic outlined of the case they plan to present. An effective opening statement will also allow the jury to see the lawyer's client in the most positive light possible.

Stage 3: Presenting Evidence

This stage will take up the bulk of your trial as both sides are given the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence. During this portion of the trial, your lawyer will be charged with the task of proving that the defendant is responsible for causing you injuries and should be held legally liable for their actions. At the same time, the defendant's lawyer will be arguing an alternative version of events that relieves their client of any legal liability.

During this stage of the trial, you will likely be called on to testify. While your lawyer will do their best to prepare you for this experience, you should be aware that the defendant's lawyer will also have the right to cross-examine you once you are on the stand. Since there is no way to know for sure exactly what questions the defense will ask you, it can be difficult to truly prepare ahead of time. In this situation, do your best to remain calm and always answer the questions honestly as you will be under oath.

Stage 4: Making A Closing Statement

After all of the witnesses have been heard and all of the evidence has been presented, each lawyer will be given the opportunity to make one final statement to the jury. During this closing statement, the lawyers will summarize the case that they have just presented and call the jurors into action by telling them exactly what verdict they want them to return. After both lawyers have made their closing statements, the jurors will return to the jury room to begin deliberations.

Stage 5: Issuing A Verdict

After deliberating the facts in the case, the jury will need to decide whether or not the plaintiff has proven their case by a standard known as a preponderance of the evidence. What this means is simply that it is more likely than not that the defendant is legally responsible for causing the injuries in question.

Once the jury has reached a unanimous decision, the verdict will be delivered in open court. This verdict will not only determine whether or not the defendant is held liable, but also the exact amount of any damages that the defendant is required to pay.