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What To Expect When Going To Trial For A Car Accident Claim For An Injury?

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Injury

Not all car accident cases go to trial. Some are settled without being taken to court. If your car accident case cannot be settled, it is best to know what to expect when it goes to trial. This article provides a general overview of the trial process and what to expect when you go to trial for your car accident claim. 

The first rule of thumb in examining your car accident case is to get a car accident lawyer. A car accident lawyer can examine the pitfalls and possibilities of your case. Based on this, recommend your case to trial. It is pivotal to understand that each state has its own laws governing trials. However, there are some principles common to most jurisdictions and these will be discussed below.

The Parties in a Car Accident Trial

A  personal injury suit involves two parties namely a Plaintiff and a Defendant. A Plaintiff is one who suffers an injury as a result of the action of the defendant. A plaintiff institutes the legal action and sues the defendant while a defendant is a person sued for the loss caused to the Plaintiff. 

A lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a complaint against the defendant in court. The copy of the complaint must be given to the defendant. The complaint states the injury caused to the plaintiff by the defendant. It also states the jurisdiction of the court to try the case and the type of relief to be granted by the court. 

The defendant after receipt of the complaint must file an answer to the complaint within a specific time. The answer is the defendant’s side of the story. 

After the complaint is filed the parties can then proceed to trial. The trial process can take two forms, a bench trial involving a judge without a jury and vice versa. During your free consultation, Car accident lawyers can tell you what type of trial is better for you. 

Car Accident Trial

 

Jury Selection Process and the Role of a Car Accident Lawyer

This process is important. It is best to hire a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury trials. The process to select the Jury is random. Twelve persons are selected from the jury pool called the venire. It comprises a list of different people selected from the voter’s registration records. 

After the selection process, the lawyers read the brief statement of facts in the case to the potential jury selection. These jurors listen to the facts of the case and proceed to make the findings of fact.  After which they determine if the defendant is liable. 

When the trial is a bench trial the judge is responsible for making decisions according to the law. Wherein the judge becomes the fact-finder.

The trial commences after the Jury selection process.

The Car Accident Trial Process

The plaintiff opens the case by making their opening statement. They state the wrong that has been done to them and the reason why the defendant is responsible. The defendant may also make an opening statement to counter the plaintiff’s story. The defendant can also tell a compelling side of their story.

After the opening statements, the parties are to present their evidence and examine their witnesses. The plaintiff examines and questions their witnesses first. The purpose of examining the witnesses is to corroborate the plaintiff’s story. During the examination, evidence can be presented. The plaintiff’s witnesses can also be cross-examined by the defendant. Cross-examination challenges the credibility of the witness. This is by creating doubts in their testimony. 

After the cross-examination by the defendant, the plaintiff can re-examine the witness. This process is called a redirect examination. It is done to clarify confusing testimony to the lawyers and the jury. After the process is complete, the plaintiff can close their case. Once the plaintiff closes their case, no more Plaintiff witnesses can be called. The plaintiff also cannot present new evidence. 

Car Accident Trial

The defendant may present their witnesses and evidence after the plaintiff. It is not a compulsory thing to do. The defendant is under no obligation to prove their innocence. The plaintiff has the sole responsibility of proving that the defendant is liable. 

Car Accident Settlements Calculation

It is not easy to get an average amount for your car accident settlements claim. Each circumstance resulting from the car accident is unique and it is on this basis that settlement is calculated.

After the trial the judge calculates the car settlements before giving a final judgment. The following factors influences how your car accident settlement is calculated:

  1. Medical bills used in treating injury resulting from the car accident.
  2. Lost wages as a result of the accident.
  3. Emotional distress
  4. Property damage
  5. The insurance coverage of the Defendant.

The Judgement of the Court or the Jury’s Decision

After the parties are done presenting their evidence, they get to make a closing argument. It is a summary of their story and evidence.

In a Jury trial, the judge informs the Jury after the closing arguments of what they need to do to reach a verdict. The Jury leaves the courtroom to deliberate based on the instructions of the judge. No one connected with the trial can contact members of the jury during this process. 

When the Jury reaches a verdict it is read in open court. 

In a bench trial, decisions are based on the evidence presented before the court. The Judge’s Judgment determines the quantum of damages awarded to the plaintiff. The defendant can also be freed for lack of establishing liability against them. 

Appeal

If you are not okay with the decision made by the Jury or the Judge, you can appeal. The appeal is to a higher court called the Court of Appeal.

This is the process of asking the higher court to review the decision of the trial court. This process of appeal does not include a trial all over again. The court of appeal only examines the record of the trial court to reach a decision.  

The supreme court entertains appeals from the court of appeal. If it is a state court, it is to the state supreme court of appeal. If it is a federal system, the appeal from the federal court of appeal is to the federal supreme court. 

The Supreme Court is the final appellate court. Thus, the decision of the supreme court is final and cannot be appealed. 

Conclusion

Hiring a car accident lawyer can determine the outcome of your case. It can give you a positive outcome because the lawyer knows criminal law as well as the court system. You can also get a settlement commensurate to the injury suffered from the car accident.

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