Often, car accident cases are settled before even having a lawsuit and going to trial. Thousands of car accident claims are settled every year with the insurance company without even ever having to go to trial. That’s because the insurance companies don’t want to have to undergo the legal expense of having to take a case to trial. At the same time, not all car claims can be settled without having to go to trial. Sometimes, there are disputes between who caused the accident and what the value of the case is.
Many times, there is an agreement on the amount of compensation that’s being offered to the plaintiff. If your case has to go to trial, likely you have a lot of questions. Keep in mind that although the laws vary from state to state regarding trials, there are some commonalities. You may be curious about how long or trying will actually take. On average, a trial can take a week from the time the jury is selected, and the verdict is delivered.
However, the complexity of your case and your state laws also play a role in how long a trial takes. There really is no rule of thumb when it comes to how long a trial takes. But there’s a lot that goes on between the jury being selected and the final verdict.
Selecting the Jury
In most states, the verdict of a car lawsuit is determined by a jury and not a judge. The jury will follow the evidence presented in court and then make its final decision. Most states have 12 members of the jury, but some states have less. Sharing the jury selection, the potential jurors are asked a number of questions by both the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney. This way, both side of the table can determine if there are any biases that might hinder their case. Having jurors that are both fair and impartial is important to both the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney on the case. Once a jury has been selected, the next stage is opening statements.
Opening Statements by Both Sides
Usually, the plaintiff’s attorney will make the first opening statement on the case. This is due to the fact that it’s the plaintiff’s burden to prove all of the allegations in the case. This is the time that the plaintiff’s attorney uses to lay out the foundation of his case. The attorney will outline the proof that he has. On average, his opening statement can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Then, the defense attorney has his opportunity to make his opening statement.
The Presentation of Evidence by Both Sides
The plaintiff’s attorney also goes first when presenting evidence in court. Evidence can take the form of the plaintiff as a witness, independent witnesses, and expert witnesses. It also may include a car accident recreation in the courtroom. All of this testimony is important to winning the case, and the plaintiff’s attorney briefs all witnesses on their testimony. The burden of proof is always on the plaintiff. The plaintiff may be questioned about what was being done before the accident, after the accident and about their injuries. Bystanders may also be called as witnesses, also. The witnesses for the plaintiff are usually not the witnesses for the defense. In addition to medical documentation, the plaintiff’s doctor may be called as a witness to testify about the plaintiff’s injuries. Questions will be asked regarding specific injuries, the treatment that was rendered, the recovery and any remaining disability due to the car accident. Loss of the capacity to work is usually questioned from a medical expert.
After the plaintiff’s attorney is finished with presenting all their evidence to meet their burden of proof, it is then the defense attorney’s opportunity to present their evidence in the case. The same format for the presentation of evidence is followed by the defense attorney as the plaintiff’s attorney. The defense attorney will try to refute the evidence presented by the plaintiff’s attorney. For example, the defense attorney may have a different witness with a different account of how the accident occurred. The defense attorney may also have its own medical expert refute the testimony of the plaintiff’s medical expert. The defense attorney uses witnesses that supports its’ claim.
The Closing Arguments of Both Sides
During closing arguments, both the plaintiff’s attorney and the defense attorney will talk to the jury about the evidence that has been presented during the trial. This is the opportunity for both attorneys to persuade the jury to see their side of the case. Of course, each attorney wants to get a verdict in their favor. Then, the jury will deliberate the case. Most juries reach a verdict within several hours; however, it can take several days sometimes. It is the jury that determines how much the plaintiff is owed. Once this has been established with the jury, the verdict is read in the courtroom and then the verdict is made official record.