The trial of a case is where, as they say, the rubber meets the road. It’s the point where all the lawyer’s hard work and preparation is put to the test. Each case presents its own set of issues that must be addressed and managed by the lawyer. The trial provides the opportunity for the Plaintiff in a case to tell his/her story to the jury, present all the facts in support of a favorable verdict and to convince the jury to award money to try to compensate for the pain and suffering or loss the Plaintiff has experienced.
JURY TRIAL IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE
While the facts of every case are different, the process of a trial is pretty standard in most jurisdictions. It begins with jury selection. I won’t bore you with the details of how to pick a jury but I will tell you that jury selection is probably the most critical part of the case. If you don’t get a good jury, you won’t get the award you’re seeking – it’s as simple as that. After a jury is selected, each side has the opportunity to present opening statements to the jury. This is where the parties have the chance to tell the jury what the case is about and what evidence the jury will see during the trial. The Plaintiff gets to give the first opening statement because the Plaintiff has the burden of proof in a civil trial. After openings, the Plaintiff begins putting up evidence. This comes in the form of witnesses testifying directly in front of the jury, depositions being read to the jury (or shown in the case of videotaped depositions) where appropriate, the presentation of documentary and photographic evidence, etc. For every witness presented by the Plaintiff, the Defense has the opportunity to cross-examine that witness. Once the Plaintiff has rested its case, the Defendant gets to put up whatever evidence he/she feels is necessary in the case. Again, every witness presented by the Defendant is cross-examined by the Plaintiff. After the Defendant rests his/her case, the Plaintiff can put up rebuttal evidence if necessary and appropriate.
After all the evidence has been presented to the jury, it’s time for closing arguments. Each side gets to argue the case to the jury and make all appropriate points as to why the jury should do as they are asking. Once closings are completed, then the judge charges the jury on the law that is applicable to the case and the jury is then required to deliberate to try to reach a verdict.
If you have been injured by someone else, please contact me at 404-474-2531 for a free and confidential consultation.