While most car accident cases are settled long before they ever go to trial, the better you understand the trial process the better prepared you will be to work with a lawyer to get the compensation you deserve. Sometimes, the only way to get an insurance company to pay up is to take a case all the way to trial.
What Happens Before You Get to the Courtroom
While every case is different, typically there will be a lot of build up before a case goes to court for a trail. Usually, both sides try and negotiate a settlement. Because you only have a very short time to bring a lawsuit for a personal injury, if negotiations are slow, often a lawsuit will be filed to both help protect your rights and to pressure the other side into offering a reasonable settlement.
Even after a lawsuit is filed, it does not mean a case is going to trial. A judge may encourage the two sides to continue to try and settle the dispute. Lawyers for both sides will exchange discovery. This may include everything from medical records to police reports.
Often, both sides will take depositions—under oath a lawyer asks witnesses questions about the facts of the case. Typically, both drivers will be deposed, but other witnesses may also have their deposition taken.
During this pretrial phase the two sides will continue to try and work out a settlement.
How Personal Injury Trials are Conducted
If a settlement is not reached, the case will eventually go to court. Most car accident cases are argued with a judge and jury. A trial will often take several days to complete. Much of the first day of trial will be spent seating a jury and settling any procedural issues.
After the jury is ready, the trial will begin with opening statements and the lawyer for the plaintiff, the one who was injured in the car accident, will begin calling witnesses. After each witness is questioned, the lawyer for the other side will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witness.
After the plaintiff calls all of his or her witnesses and submits all of his or her evidence, the defense presents its case. This will involve more witnesses and more evidence. Both sides will give closing statements after the defense rests its case.
The judge will then send the case to the jury with some instructions. The jury will go to a separate room and make a decision. It could take anywhere from a few hours to a several days before the jury has a decision. Everyone will go back into the courtroom to hear the jury read the verdict; the verdict is the end of the trial.
Sometimes, cases will settle in the middle of the trial. However, if the case goes all the way to trial, most likely the entire trial will unfold.
If you have been injured in a car accident, please consult with a dedicated DuPage County personal injury attorney right away to discuss your rights and possible claims. Call Mevorah Law Offices LLC at 630-932-9100 to schedule your consultation today.
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