What To Expect in a Personal Injury Trial (Understanding Your PI Claim Part 3)
October 2nd, 2023
When an accident causes a personal injury, you begin your claim by notifying the other party’s insurance company and working to resolve your case. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful or the other party disputes who was at fault for causing your injuries, your lawyer will file a lawsuit to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you and your family deserve. During litigation, the parties will work to negotiate a fair and just resolution to your case. But if a resolution is not forthcoming, you can take your personal injury case to trial.
Why Is My Personal Injury Case Going to Trial?
Many people ask, “How many personal injury cases go to trial?”
Statistically, more than 95% of lawsuits nationwide are resolved before trial. But if, despite our best efforts, the negligent party refuses to provide you with fair and just compensation for your injuries, your case will be scheduled for trial.
A trial is an adversarial proceeding where the plaintiff (the person who filed the lawsuit) presents evidence to show why the defendant is at fault and asks the jury to return a verdict with an amount of money that will fairly and justly compensate the plaintiff for their injuries.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Timeline
The weeks and days leading up to the trial can be stressful. You will meet with your lawyer and the judge to try to resolve your case. By the day of trial, you will have had multiple meetings with your lawyer and the judge. Everyone involved should have a good understanding of the issues presented in your case.
On the day of trial, we will go to the courthouse and meet with the judge in chambers for a final discussion to try to resolve your case. We will also discuss the logistics of the trial, such as evidentiary issues, how many witnesses each side will call, and how long the trial is expected to last.
The trial begins when the judge invites potential jurors into the courtroom. In a jury trial, the judge and jury have separate functions. The judge manages the trial, oversees the courtroom, and makes rulings on the law. The jury is the factfinder and will evaluate the evidence to determine which side is more credible and an amount of money that will fairly and justly compensate the plaintiff.
Typically, the judge welcomes the jurors and makes introductory remarks about the case. The judge will ask basic questions about the jurors’ ability to serve and provide an overview of how the trial will be conducted.
The lawyers are then invited to question the jury to choose jurors who will be best suited for your particular case. A lawyer can excuse a juror “for cause” if the juror cannot fairly and impartially evaluate the evidence. Each side can also use a limited number of peremptory challenges to excuse jurors they do not think will be favorable to their side.
Once the lawyers are satisfied with the jurors and the jury has been sworn in, the lawyers make their opening statements. The opening statement is a short, plain statement about what each lawyer expects the evidence to show.
The plaintiff has the burden of proof and goes first. When the plaintiff’s lawyer has concluded their opening statement, the defense lawyers make their opening statements.
Plaintiff’s Case in Chief
Once each side has completed opening statements, the plaintiff calls their first witness. The plaintiff’s lawyer asks questions on direct examination, and the defense lawyers can cross-examine the witnesses.
During direct examination, a lawyer cannot ask leading questions (questions that suggest a response and can be answered with a “yes” or “no”). On cross-examination, a lawyer can ask leading questions.
The plaintiff continues calling and questioning witnesses, and the defense lawyers cross-examine them until the plaintiff has presented all of their evidence. Once the plaintiff is satisfied they have met their burden of proof, the plaintiff closes their case and rests.
Defendant’s Case in Chief
When the plaintiff is finished, the defendant presents their case in chief. Like the plaintiff, the defendant calls witnesses and asks questions on direct examination. The plaintiff’s lawyer can cross-examine the witnesses to challenge their credibility or version of events. Once the defense is satisfied, they close their case and rest.
After the defense rests, the plaintiff can re-open their case and call rebuttal witnesses to refute the evidence presented by the defense. Once again, the defendant can cross-examine the witnesses.
When both sides have finished presenting evidence, the case moves to closing arguments, or “summation.” Each side will review the evidence they believe supports their case and ask the jury to return a verdict in their favor. The plaintiff’s lawyer will ask the jury to return a verdict of an amount of money that will fairly compensate the injured person for their losses.
When closing arguments are finished, the judge will read the jury instructions and turn the case over to the jury, which will deliberate until they reach a verdict.
When the jury finishes deliberating, they notify the judge and return to the courtroom, where the verdict will be read in open court.
Contact Muth Law, P.C. for Help with Your Personal Injury Claim
Going to trial can be a stressful and uncertain process. But in some cases, it is the only way to obtain justice.
Muth Law, P.C. has decades of experience representing personal injury victims, and our personal injury trial lawyers are no strangers to Michigan courtrooms. We have the knowledge, resources, and experience to present a compelling argument for why you deserve to be compensated, and we will work tirelessly to bring your case to a successful resolution.
If you or someone you love suffered a personal injury in Michigan, Muth Law can help. To put our experience and expertise to work for you, contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help. Call us anytime at 743-481-8800, email email@example.com, or complete our contact form.
Categories: Personal Injury