August 3, 2020
What Should I Expect at a Personal Injury Trial?
Posted in: Personal Injury
Nearly all personal injury cases settle before a trial, but they happen. We prepare as if every case will go to trial because insurance companies and their lawyers notice that level of preparation. It helps us get the best settlements possible for our clients. If an insurance company isn’t reasonable, the case can go to trial, and the result may be much worse than they expect. You can expect Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. to support and prepare you for trial, make you comfortable, confident, and ready to tell your story.
Personal Injury Trials Can Take Time
There are many steps in a case before a trial. Getting to a trial may take a long time, possibly years after your lawsuit was filed. Trials could be days or weeks long, depending on its complexity, the number of witnesses, and how long they need to be on the stand. Lawyers for both sides could make objections to testimony or other evidence, which may take time. There may also be legal motions, requests that the judge make decisions before the jury makes their decisions. Choosing a jury will also take some time, as both sides try to have members that will be open to their side of the story.
A Trial is Competing Stories Told to the Audience of Jurors
The trial is a way to resolve the conflict between you and the insurance company because we couldn’t settle it ourselves. In most of our cases, juries decide the facts, which side is successful, and how much will be awarded.
A trial is very much like a play. Two stories are told at the same time on the stage of the courtroom. The plaintiff and the insurance company tell their stories through witnesses, evidence, closing, and opening statements by attorneys. The jury decides how the story ends.
The burden is on us to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it’s more likely than not the defendant was negligent, caused your injuries, and needs to compensate you for the harm done. We will tell your side of the story and the insurance company will tell the insured’s side of the story.
Most of the time, the insurance company’s goal is to have the jury believe we haven’t met our burden of proof, so the verdict should be in the defendant’s favor. They’ll attack our evidence and our witnesses’ credibility to plant seeds of doubt, in hopes they’ll blossom into a verdict in their favor. It’s our job to show your case is believable, common sense, and the insurance company is just blowing smoke.
After the jury is chosen, attorneys for both sides give opening statements. We outline our cases and why the jury should believe us. We make our clients sympathetic to the jury and tell them about their honesty, that they’re decent people who have unfairly suffered because of the defendant’s negligence. The insurance company attorney tells the jury the insured is a good person, you’re the one to blame for the accident, you’re not really as hurt as you claim, and they should dismiss the case.
Witnesses are Normally the Most Important Storytellers
You would testify about your life before the accident, what happened during the accident, and how your life changed afterward. Witnesses to the accident could also testify as to what happened. We hire experts to talk about your injuries, how they impact you today and tomorrow. Our experts will testify on how the accident occurred and why the defendant is to blame. Attorneys go back and forth, asking questions of the witnesses. We may object to a question or how it’s asked, and the judge decides what’s appropriate.
We will prepare you and all our witnesses before the trial. We will give you the evidence for your review. We will role-play, so you’ll get a feel for what’ll be like on the stand. One of our attorneys will ask you questions. Another will play the insurance company’s lawyer, so you’ll be ready for difficult questions in the courtroom.
Every case has strengths and weaknesses. We come up with strategies to emphasize our strengths and shore up the flaws. The insurance company does the same with its case.
After the Evidence is Submitted, the Jury Decides the Case
After we’re finished putting on our case, the defense attorney may tell the judge that all or part of your case is so weak he or she should dismiss it and not let the jury decide. This approach rarely works but defense attorneys try anyways.
The defense puts on their case next. The defendant will take the stand, their experts will testify, and they will introduce evidence. Just as the insurance company tried to poke holes in your story, we will poke holes in theirs.
After both sides have told their stories, the judge gives the jury instructions. It’s up to them to come up with a conclusion. They will debate amongst themselves and narrow down the issues. They will talk about who is credible, discuss their doubts and beliefs about the stories both sides told. They will vote until they reach a consensus on the outcome.
After the verdict is announced, attorneys may make more motions. The losing side may try to get another trial or ask the judge to overturn the verdict. These are extreme actions that judges normally don’t take.
We have an excellent track record with trials. Though that’s no guarantee, you should feel confident that after your trial’s over, your story will carry the day.
Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Can Help You and Your Family
We’re ready to fight for you. We’re ready to be your ally and start right now. We will discuss your case with you, talk about how Illinois law may apply, and your best options moving forward. Don’t waste time. Contact our law offices for a free consultation. Call us at (312) 236-2900 or fill out our online contact form today.