A personal Injury Claim is a claim filed against any physical or mental injury caused by another party’s negligence. It includes automobile accidents, medical malpractice, police misconduct, etc. And it can be resolved through either settlement or trial.
If the defendant breaches the written agreement under the settlement, the plaintiff can file a contract lawsuit against him. Well, a trial includes a judge and jury as well from the very beginning. And here, both plaintiff and defendant are provided with equal opportunities to explain their side of the story.
As per the estimates of the US government, there are 300,000 to 500,000 personal injury cases each year. But only 3% to 5% of the total Personal injury cases go to trials. And the 8 things to expect when your personal injury claim goes to trial are given below:
1. Results Are Calculated On The Basis Of Weightage
A jury is selected and impaneled for your case. Mostly, it includes six members. While the judge selects the admissible evidence, the jury decides if the person sued is at fault on its basis. The criminal cases need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt (approval of 99% jury). But in personal injury cases, the result is taken on a ‘balance of probabilities’ basis. This means that result would be in the favor of those with more strong shreds of evidence. Or we can say that the one having more weight in his case will emerge victorious.
2. Opening Statements
Next, the opening statements are to be made by each party. Here, they provide an overview of their story and an outline of evidence they will be presenting further. The case proceeds on the basis of the overview provided here.
3. The Lawyer Explains Your Side of The Story
Then your lawyer will describe the injury inflicted and the impact on your life due to these injuries. You have to explain what was your life before and in what way it has been impacted now. All the details have to be supported with adequate evidence and witnesses. The ‘lay witnesses’ including friends and family members can also testify about the changes in your life. In case of medical injury, the health care providers could also explain your diagnosis and prognosis. However, you must ensure that you have the best personal injury lawyers. If you are looking for one, check on this site.
The evidence provided will then be examined by the jury. Also, the defendant’s lawyer can conduct a cross-examination of the evidence and witnesses. And he/she might try to entrap you in a series of questions to reach the point he/she wants. Then the case might get pictured in the wrong light scripted by the defendant’s lawyer.
4. The Defendant’s Lawyers Tells Their End Of Story
Moving further, the whole process will be repeated with the defendant. He/she will provide his pieces of evidence and witnesses through the lawyer. They will be examined by the jury. And then your lawyer will also have a chance to cross-examine the evidence and witnesses. This is a major opportunity to bring to light any falsified evidence or witness.
5. Closing Arguments
After all the evidence and witnesses have been produced by both parties, rounds of closing arguments take place. They will be provided level ground to make an impression for the last time. Here, all the pieces of evidence need to be woven together and brought out compellingly. This stage should not be under-estimated as it could result in a major shift in the judge’s or jury’s perspective.
Then the ‘charge’ will be given to the jury by the judge. The instructions of legal principles consideration are given to the jury through this charge. After that, the judge will put a series of questions before the jury members in a civil case. The agreement of five of the six jurors is required for producing a verdict. Several deliberations then take place among the jury members. And a final verdict is then announced.
If an agreement is unable to be reached, the judge declares it a mistrial considering it a deadlock. The trial then takes place again from the beginning with a new jury.
6. What To Expect If You Lose?
Anyway, you should be ready beforehand for extreme cases. You might lose the case and not get even a single penny as compensation. On the other hand, compensation can be extensive as well. It might include a few or all of the following:
- Loss of earnings
- Past and future medical costs
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
It will vary as per the graveness of injury as well as the result of the trial.
7. It Is A Time-Consuming Affair
Cases in courts are generally more time-consuming than direct settlements and mediations. It could just be a matter of months to recover the compensation. On the other hand, it takes 1-3 years to resolve a case through trial. This was indicated by the reports of the United States Department of Justice and the National Center for State Courts. But it varies again as per the type of injury and pieces of evidence. So, it would be best to take a piece of fair advice from your attorney before filing a lawsuit.
8. Huge Costs Involved
Since it could take a significantly long period to get your case resolved, it could cost you a lot. The lawyer’s fees, administrative fees, and court filing fees are the most essential expenses. And the lawyer’s fees contribute the most to it. It could range from $150 per hour to $400 per hour depending on his/her expertise and the region. And a typical case could easily take more than 50 hours to get resolved.
In areas like New York, the basic cost you could expect is $15,000+. And it could go as upwards to $100,000 as well. This is the reason why most people prefer to settle these cases outside of the courts via negotiations.
Although cases could take a toll in terms of time and money invested, jury trials mostly lead to better success rates. In the end, it is preferable to take advice from a close legal friend who would be impartial. It is necessary for you to have a fair approximation of your victory. And then the decision could be taken keeping in mind all the points that are provided above.