This is the next post in a series of articles about handling personal injury cases in Laredo, Texas. My previous articles discussed the process of dealing with insurance companies following an accident. Insurance adjusters who represent the defendant and the insurance company can be intimidating. Engaging an attorney early in the process to handle all communications with the insurance company and manage the settlement negotiations can help ensure that your legal rights are protected. Should settlement with the insurance company not occur, a party may decide to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. This post will explain what plaintiffs may expect during a trial. If you have been injured in an accident and need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Personal injury trials are heard by juries. The trial process begins with the attorneys for both sides selecting jury members from a potential pool of jurors. The lawyers for each party as well as the judge ask questions of potential jury members to ascertain whether the person is capable of being impartial in their review of the case. The judge may remove someone from the jury pool for “cause” if the person’s answers indicate they may be biased. The attorneys may also use a limited number of challenges to remove potential jurors from the pool based on their questioning. Candidates may not be removed or challenged for discriminatory reasons. The final group of jurors will be empaneled to hear the case at trial.
Following jury selection, the attorneys for both sides will present opening statements to the court. Opening statements are an opportunity to provide an overview of the facts and legal theories that will be made during the case. The plaintiff will then present their evidence and witnesses followed by the defendant’s presentation of their case. In personal injury cases, the parties must provide objective evidence to establish or defend against the liability of defendants and in support of claims for damages. This phase of the trial often involves testimony by expert witnesses, such as doctors, accident reconstructionists or vocational experts. After the defense has presented their case, the plaintiff may offer “rebuttal” evidence. At the conclusion of the evidentiary phase of the trial, each side will then issue closing arguments and the jurors will deliberate. A verdict will be issued in regards to liability and damages.
As mentioned above, during the evidentiary phase of the trial, the parties will likely include testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists, economists, medical professionals and others. Depending upon the type of accident, number of defendants and severity of the injuries involved, it is not uncommon for cases to include days or weeks of testimony. Complex legal theories, such as comparative fault, employer liability, or products liability, may be difficult for jurors to understand.
For these reasons it is essential to retain a lawyer with experience in personal injury jury trials who is able to present such information to the judge and jury in a clear and concise way. My office handles personal injury matters in Laredo and other areas of south Texas. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact my office as soon as possible to speak with an attorney.