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 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.