What Happens When My Personal Injury Case Goes To Trial?

The good news is this: personal injury cases won’t normally go to trial. Neither party involved in the case wants that, and most times a settlement will be reached long before you need to worry about it. That’s because both legal teams understand that a jury solution is a bigger gamble with perhaps even greater costs. The question remains: what happens when your personal injury case does go to trial?

It’s important to understand the importance of all evidence gathered before the trial begins. After you’ve filed a lawsuit, there will be a process of discovery for both sides. Your lawyer and the defendant’s will gather as much information as possible in order to determine the best possible arguments for either side. In addition to physical documentation, witnesses will provide statements to lend expert analyses to the event in question, and usually, the victim of the injury will be deposed. Everything that happened goes on record.

After that, your personal injury case will likely be mediated one way or another in order to find a settlement outcome that suits both parties more than a trial would. Usually, this works out because one party has a clear edge over the other.

When neither party is willing to give ground, a case might go to trial. When this happens, all the evidence gathered through discovery is presented to a judge or jury. This process can be long and painstaking. First, a jury is selected. After that, the sequence usually plays out like this: both sides will present opening statements to frame their arguments, witnesses will present testimony that could lend credence to those arguments, and then both sides will present closing arguments. After that, the jury will be instructed on how to best fulfill its role. The jury will deliberate, and you’ll have to hope for the best.

This process isn’t ideal because a jury is composed of people who aren’t fluent in how the law works. They’re newbies, and it’s difficult to predict how they’ll react to the story presented by either the victim or the defendant. If possible, try to avoid this outcome–even if you think you deserve better.

What Are The Penalties For DUI in Florida?

If you’re not prepared, the legal system can chew you up and spit you out–especially if you choose not to adequately defend yourself against the consequences of going through that system. First, make sure you find a qualified DUI lawyer. Even if you’re innocent of the charges against you, don’t think you can make it without a good defense. If you’re prosecuted for the charge of DUI, these are some of the penalties you might incur.

The penalties for DUI become more extreme depending on circumstance. If this is your second offense, then you can expect to be hit even harder. Florida issues tens of thousands of DUI tickets each year, but not all of them go to court. Don’t panic.

For a first conviction you could experience the following penalties:

  • A fine between $250 and $500.
  • A year or less of probation.
  • Six months or less in jail. If you were driving under the influence while a minor was present in the vehicle, then this figure changes to nine months or less.
  • Up to fifty hours of community service.
  • Up to twelve hours of DUI school.
  • Your license may be revoked for at least 180 days.

The figures change substantially with each subsequent charge. If this is your third DUI charge in less than a decade, you’ll experience the following substantial penalties:

  • You’ll spend a minimum of thirty days but up to five years in jail.
  • Five years or less of probation.
  • You’ll pay a fine of no less than $2000 and no more than $5000.
  • Your license will be suspended for ten years.
  • You’ll face mandatory substance abuse education.
  • Your vehicle will be impounded for three months.

If these penalties weren’t enough, you’ll also be paying legal fees and ballooned insurance premiums. It isn’t worth it! Don’t drink and drive. Most lawyers offer free consultations to discuss the circumstances of your arrest, so take advantage in order to find the one for you.

Do I Have to go to Trial For A Breach of Warranty Case?

If you’ve fallen victim to the broken promises made during the purchase of any product, then you’re probably already under a great deal of stress. A breach of warranty means that a manufacturer or seller failed to provide the agreed upon services in the event your product broke down. If the product is a vehicle, for example, and your vehicle breaks down while under warranty, then a quick call can usually lead to a repair. If that doesn’t happen, then you might have a breach of warranty case.

If you’ve been taken advantage of, then you’re probably concerned about the possibility you might be dragged into a long court case. Not everyone has the financial stability to afford these legal maneuvers. If you think you have a case against either a seller or manufacturer, then it’s important for you to place yourself in the experienced hands of an attorney who practices breach of warranty. You’ll be able to discuss specific details of a potential case.

One of the factors that can determine whether or not you’ll end up in court is the evidence required to prove your case.

An express warranty is voluntary on the part of either the seller or manufacturer, as the burden of proof will be placed squarely on the defense. An implied warranty is an assumed agreement at the time of sale–buy a car, and you expect it to provide transportation. Ask your lawyer if the type of warranty breach will affect your case.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the question of whether or not you’ll get stuck in a court trial for a breach of warranty case. It all depends on the finer details of your own circumstances. How large was the breach of warranty and how much did it cost you? Did the breach of warranty affect only you, or did it extend to many others?

Depending on the scale of the breach, the case might go to trial. If the scale was small, then you might be able to skate by with a small claim–and that means you can avoid trial. Some cases can go as high as the Supreme Court!

What happens if I have to go to Trial after a Car Accident?

In most cases, if you are involved in a lawsuit due to a car accident, the case will settle out of court. This is seen as optimal for both parties. In some cases, like a rear-end collision, it is easy to prove fault. Although, this is not always the case and sometimes a trial is required. A trial can lead to a couple different scenarios for the plaintiff. The first scenario is the court can rule in favor of the plaintiff, rewarding them more than the original amount. The other scenario is the court can rule against the plaintiff, awarding the original amount or nothing at all. A trial is more likely for cases that are for a very high reward as opposed to a case that is a smaller or midsized reward. This is because a judge will not want to bring a case for $20,000 to court because of the time and resources that a trial will ensue. If the case is for one million dollars, it is a lot more likely a judge will see this as a matter that is important and should be heard by a jury.

The Trial                                 

The process of a car accident trial is very similar to a “normal trial.” The main difference is that penalties for car accident trials are financial, not punitive. If you are not familiar with the process of a trial, we have taken the time to lay out the steps for you.

  • Jury selection
    • Most states will have the judge select a jury for a trial. Jurors will be selected by the judge after they face a series of questions. The judge will determine which jurors ideology best fits the case at hand.
  • Opening statements
    • The opening statements will be made on the first day of the trial. During this time, each lawyer will explain their client’s case and state why they are suing or should not be sued.
  • Presentation of Evidence
    • The plaintiff will take the lead here presenting any evidence they feel necessary in proving their case. Evidence can include photographs, medical reports, police reports, witnesses or anything else that proves their side of the case.
    • The defendant will follow the plaintiff. It is at this juncture that they will be able to provide their own evidence and cross-examine the plaintiff’s witnesses. Technically, the defendant does not need to bring any evidence, as it is the plaintiff’s job to prove the defendant wrong beyond reasonable doubt.
  • What’s the Verdict?

Following the closing statements, the jury will convene and come to a decision. They will then inform the judge of their decision. The judge will take all of the information, and provide a ruling on the case, including the reward, if there is one.

How Often Do Personal Injury Cases Go To Trial?

How Often Do Personal Injury Cases Go To Trial?

Personal Injury Law bookPersonal injury cases, like other forms of civil suits, rarely goes to trial. Personal injury claims are a claim against and entity stating that that entity’s negligence caused you to suffer an injury. The plaintiff will file a claim against the defendant, for the money they feel they are owed due to medical expenses, lost time at work, pain and suffering, and any other relevant damages the defendant may have incurred.

In the United States, only four to five percent of personal injury cases actually reach a trial. The overwhelming majority (95%-96%) of cases are settled pretrial. According to thelawdictionary.org, 90% of the cases that actually go to trial result in a loss. Personal injury cases that reach the trial phase often do better in front of a trial judge, rather than a jury. Trial judges tend to pay off at a higher rate and for a larger sum of money.

Why do Most Cases Settle?

 

  1. Settlement allows a defendant to control risk and avoid legal costs

 

If the defendant knows that they are at fault, they will often try to settle outside of court. By settling out of court, the defendant will avoid suffering a bigger loss due to the emotional appeal of the jury. Another reason the defendant will attempt to settle outside of court is that they can control the offer of the settlement.

  1. Settlement can allow defendant to keep the case out of the public eye

This is generally applicable to high profile suits. For example, if a major corporation sells a defective product that injures a few people, they will attempt to come to an agreement outside of court before it hits the press cycle.These settlements can include a confidentiality agreement.

  1. Settlement allows plaintiff to avoid protracted trial

If the plaintiff needs money because he/she is unable to work and cannot afford the medical expenses, it is more than likely the two parties will reach a pretrial agreement.

  1. Settlements are a guaranteed victory

Settlements are a guaranteed victory. When a plaintiff goes to trial for a personal injury suit, there is a chance they can lose and receive nothing for their injuries. Settling before a trial takes place ensures that the plaintiff will receive something.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured due to another person’s negligent or reckless behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. Compensation can include lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. While personal injury does not always result in a trial, there is a small chance your case does. In the case of a trial, it is important to make sure that you have an experienced personal injury litigation attorney on your side.

Update on DACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (also known as DACA) began as an executive action during the Obama administration as an initiative toward immigration policy overhaul, implementing certain conditions for those who had arrived in the United States during a certain time in their lives (before their 16th birthday) among other conditions as of its implementation. However, due to arguments from the Trump administration that question the constitutional cogency of DACA (primarily the fact that it was initiated as an executive action as opposed to cycling through the legislative branches of the government), the fate of DACA has come to hang in the balance, along with the fates of those remaining in the country solely because of the program – colloquially known as DREAMers, all 800,000 of them.

However, there are those who have come to champion the program and argue that the Trump administration is attempting to phase out DACA on premises-based solely on racist tendencies. Initiated by protests nationwide, the cause had been taken up by state government entities, including Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Ferguson cites arguments against the administration that involve the Muslim-targeted travel ban, and he claims in the lawsuit that the administration has violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution by going after a demographic whose heritage hails with a vast majority from Mexico.

The Department of Justice, however, seems to have sided for the time being with the administration. Despite whatever suspected racial bias Trump may be expressed in this act, the DOJ cites back to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ argument regarding the Obama administration’s act of circumventing the legislative branch altogether.

In recent developments of the lawsuit posed by several states in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, this argument by the Trump administration seems to have worked against them in the long-term. A Federal court in California had recently ruled that all legal advice regarding the determination that the DACA was unconstitutional meant that all research related to this supposed conclusion must be disclosed. Said Judge William Alsup, “Defendants argue that [the Department of Homeland Security] had to rescind DACA because it exceeded the lawful authority of the agency…They cannot, therefore, simultaneously refuse to disclose the legal research that led to that conclusion.” This determination also led to the conclusion that the Trump administration had waived client-attorney privilege because of the claim that DACA is unconstitutional. As of now, there are no less than five different lawsuits spurred from the attempts on part of the Trump administration to phase out DACA, one of them spearheaded by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, representing a state in which – statistics suggest – one in four DACA participants currently resides.

Alsup ruled that the administration must provide all legal advice regarding the unconstitutional foundation of DACA – including e-mails, letters, memos and other materials – by October 27.

Still, others criticize DACA as utilizing a sob story narrative to justify its implementation. It cites statistics that suggest that, while DACA claims to protect those children who were brought here without any authority to decide for themselves, many were actually teenagers or had crossed the border into the United States themselves – or both. Other pieces of evidence attempt to illuminate that 36 of the 149 countries of origin for DACA participants are considered, “wealthy, democratic and European” along with nine Asian countries that have thriving or developing economies.

The State of Litigation in PA

Tort lawsuits are those you hear about the most: party A did something wrong to party B, and now party B wants a large sum of money. The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece that suggested these lawsuits are set to dwindle in number, but guess what: that’s nonsense. The WSJ made the claim based on a recent data point that suggested cases have already gone down since 1933. Okay, fair enough, maybe they have. But we’re not so sure, and we’re closing in on nearly a century’s worth of time since then. Perception of what constitutes “big” is based on the here and now–not 1933.

Another data point suggests that tort lawsuits have plummeted over just the past few decades. While tort lawsuits amounted to sixteen percent of the overall lawsuit pie in 1993, they amount to only about five percent of it now. That’s a pretty steep decline, so what gives? Well, first off, it’s important to note that not everyone agrees with the data in question.

The President of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Lisa Rickard, said that part of this transition to a lower number of tort lawsuits was due to a change in the way lawsuits are being lodged. That is to say, lawsuits that were once made by just one plaintiff are now being joined by a group. But those numbers aren’t compared in the provided data points, making them basically irrelevant. The overall trend is anything else but transparent.

Mark Behrens, who operates out of the law firm Shook, agrees that conclusions have been drawn far too prematurely.

National trends don’t necessarily matter when you consider what’s going on in just Pennsylvania, so what’s happening here? Well, to put it plainly, the news isn’t good (depending on what side of the law you fall upon): for every 100,000 Pennsylvania residents, there are about 274 tort cases lodged. This is a big step above the national average, and so is the overall number of cases in the realm of civil court. Tort cases in 2015 accounted for nearly eight percent of everything.

This could be a big problem for people who rely on fair law to do business. Entrepreneurs are often subject to frivolous tort lawsuits, and society at large relies on these business-savvy participants to provide more jobs. More lawsuits mean fewer jobs, fewer jobs mean a more sluggish economy, and so Pennsylvania legislators are busy searching for a meaningful solution.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court might ease the burden with case limitations that prevent cases being filed from other jurisdictions, and other laws are popping up out of state that do the same thing. This could provide relief for Philadelphia courts, which are routinely busy throughout the year. Either way, something must be done fast.

WHAT IS THE DISCOVERY PHASE?

Whether a civil or criminal proceeding, a trial can last for several months – from the initial hearing to final disposition – or years. When an event takes that long, it will inevitably have stages or phases of the process.

Perhaps one of the most important phases of a trial is what is called the discovery phase, which occurs before a trial commences in a courtroom.  The discovery phase essentially helps the two sides of a case set up their “game plan” for the trial – what to attack, when to defend, when to deflect, when to cast doubt. Much of how a trial is prosecuted by both sides is determined largely by the information revealed in discovery.

The discovery phase in a trial is also called the evidentiary phase, or the phase where evidence and factual statements are revealed by both sides.  All the cards are placed on the table, so each side knows what the other side has to make its case and there is no surprises in court, which may delay the process and violate a citizen’s right to a “speedy trial.”

This phase can involve a hearing with production of documents, and it can also involve motions to suppress or motions to compel discovery based on sensitivity and relevance of some evidence or statements.  Discovery means it is the part of the trial where both sides “discover” the cards in each side’s hand as they play poker at the trial.

Evidence that is presented during discovery can involve documents, expert or professional testimony, depositiosn of witnesses, digital communications (text messages, e-mails, video calls, etc.) that can be deemed relevant or material to the case. This may also include a list of witnesses that each side would expect to call to testify.

One of the most common aspects of discovery is the deposition, which is an interview outside of court of a witness in the case. Depositions are generally cross-examinations under oath, though most states do allow depositions by either party’s lawyer to either party’s witnesses. Most of the time, however, both parties’ attorneys are present at a deposition, even if only one side demands or requests the deposition.

Depositions have the force of a trial setting, where the witness is sworn under oath to tell the truth and answer all questions honestly, though the attorney representing the witness may object to some questions on the record, as depositions are usually videotaped or transcribed for use at trial.

There is formal and informal discovery with a case. Formal discovery usually involves hearings and will involve requests for production (of evidence), depositions, or requests of admission (which are basic facts of the case that both sides should concede or stipulate before trial).

Informal discovery can be handled by a witness or an attorney outside of a court hearing. This includes gathering photographs of damage or stolen property, insurance claim forms, witness statements, interviewing witnesses, getting third-party verficiation of facts to support your case, etc.

Once the discovery phase is complete (which may take weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the case and the volume of disvoerable material), the trial can move onto either a settlement process (when, after discovery, both sides can concede strength or weakness of a case and decide to avoid the trial) or can move into the jury-selection phase. In some cases, the discovery phase can be the longest phase of a trial.

VERDICT VS. SETTLEMENT: WHAT’S THE DIFF?

The very short answer is, there is no difference.

Both a verdict and a settlement are essentially the conclusion of a legal matter, such as a personal-injury or intellectual-property case.

The longer answer is that, of course the two are different, or they would have the same name. As both terms refer to a type of resolution of a case, this implies that a case can be resolved in more than one way. Let’s dig into what each of these resolutions mean in their legal context.

A settlement is an agreement reached between the two sides in a case without the matter going to trial, or being reached during the pretrial process but before the judge or jury renders a final decision. Usually, a settlement is reached when it is clear by both parties that one side’s case is considerably weaker than the other’s – the weaker will often offer a settlement to the stronger. The stronger side has the leverage in negotiations and could dictate terms of the settlement, but even the stronger side doesn’t necessarily want to go to trial unless it’s a matter of the stronger side is being railroaded and wants to prove it in court.

A settlement is usually an agreed-upon amount of money or series of actions that essentially show that the weaker side wants to spare a trial and thus may be willing to give up less than he or she might have paid out had the jury or judge reached the same decision on liability. A settlement is clean, can be done behind closed doors and saves time and money on a trial proceeding. It’s as close to a win-win as you get when one side loses.

A verdict is another type of resolution, except it is one where the two parties to the case do not participate in the details. A judge or jury hears all the evidence and testimony and renders a verdict that says one side wins or loses – there is no negotiation. The side that loses is forced to pay whatever amount the court deemed appropriate for the loss perpetrated on the winner, and the two sides can’t discuss the merits of it later.

Often, when a verdict is rendered in lieu of a settlement, the losing party will have to pay out considerably more money than in a settlement – because trials are expensive, and costs for putting on the trial, paying for the judge, the court reporter, the jury members’ per diem, the bailiff and others, can mean even more financial pain.

It is a good idea to consider a settlement first if you are involved in a legal matter, even if you are in a strong position to win. It’s called having grace or mercy to at least be open to an offer by the weaker case. However, if the weaker position isn’t looking to settle, or if the case looks like it could go either way, then going to trial and taking your chances may be the better option, if for no other reason than to establish precedent for future cases of a similar nature.

Don’t settle for a trial, unless the settlement is a trial to achieve.

What Is A Deposition?

Before a criminal trial can take place, it is necessary for both the prosecution and the defense to gather as much evidence as possible in order to prove guilt or innocence. The procedures for doing so are complex. The discovery process is a part of this pre-trial procedure in which evidence is gathered from the opposition. This can be done by requesting relevant documentation that only the opposition has access to, and is often initiated by filing for a subpoena in order to legally compel a transfer of information. Another part of this pre-trial process is a deposition.

During a deposition, there is often a videotaped testimony of a witness or defendant that takes place out of court. This testimony is then transcribed and used in court as evidence. In this way, court proceedings are streamlined. The lawyers and prosecutors do the majority of their work out of court so that a judge and jury can wade their way through other cases without wasting taxpayer money and time. Depositions are a more efficient use of relevant legal resources and are common during pre-trial motions and proceedings.

In some situations, it may be necessary to conduct the deposition during in-court proceedings. These situations are usually extreme in nature. For example, if a witness is on his or her deathbed, it may be necessary to streamline the process for gathering evidence even if it might draw out the trial.

A deposition is usually conducted in a professional setting, but each situation may be different. Most often they are conducted in a law firm or court reporter office or conference room, but on occasion may take place where a particular witness works or lives. These evidence-gathering sessions take place with a number of people present, including the deposed, attorneys, court reporters, etc. A person who is being deposed has the legal right to an attorney in order to guide the questions asked and answers given.

These sessions begin with the deposed taking an oath, to tell the truth, just as he or she would if in court.

For those who have never been interrogated, a deposition can be a scary experience. Although it helps to have an attorney present during questioning, you never know exactly what questions will be asked or how the opposing side will conduct the deposition. Such proceedings can be relatively passive experiences, or they can devolve into aggressive verbal fistfights. It is not at all uncommon for the deposed to experience harassment or be asked inappropriate questions, and when in that particular scenario it is important to keep one’s temper in check. Even though a judge is not present during a deposition, everything the deposed says is a matter of record and should be held as such.