Research has shown that only around 4% of all personal injury cases go to trial. However, if yours does happen to go to trial, it is important that you know what to expect. It is also important to have a good personal injury trial attorney on your side.
But what happens during a personal injury trial exactly? Keep reading and learn all the details behind a personal injury trial in SC.
Jury selection is the first and one of the most important parts of a personal injury trial. Legal representatives take on the responsibility of selecting citizens from the jury pool to serve on the jury. Jury selection is a complex process in which legal representatives need to question potential jurors to see if they would make a good fit for the jury.
The judge will ask questions of the potential jurors to determine if they have any personal biases towards the case at hand. The judge will also ask if the potential jurors have had any experiences that are similar to the one featured in the personal injury case. If lawyers on either side of the case find that a potential juror has some kind of bias that would prevent him or her from being a good juror, that person will be excused. This is because it is of utmost importance that jurors be as objective as possible. If a potential juror is not able to be impartial because they have experienced an event similar to the case at hand or if the person is already rooting for one side, this would destroy the potential juror’s ability to remain impartial to the case.
Jury selection may take a while, depending on the pool of people the legal representatives are choosing from. Once the representatives choose enough people for the jury, it will be time to move on to the next phase: opening statements.
The Opening Statements
There will be two opening statements at the beginning of a personal injury trial. One opening statement will come from the plaintiff’s attorney while the other will come from the defendant’s lawyer. The plaintiff’s attorney gives their opening statement first. This opening statement also tends to be longer since it needs to involve the details of the personal injury case and the injuries at hand.
It is the plaintiff’s objective to explain to the jury the full extent of the damages and injuries involved in the case and how the defendant is liable. That way, the jury can understand the full story as told from the plaintiff’s side. After the plaintiff gives the first opening statement, the defendant’s attorney will then give their opening statement.
This defendant’s opening statement will typically be slightly shorter but it will give the defendant the opportunity to offer their version of the facts of the case.
After the opening statements of the trial, it will be time to bring in any evidence and witnesses. The plaintiff will be the first to bring out evidence and explain the importance of the evidence to the jury. To strengthen the power of the evidence, witnesses are brought in to testify as to their knowledge of the facts and evidence. In some cases, expert witnesses may also be hired or called to testify at the trial. Each witness will be sworn in and profess to tell only the truth in their testimony.
Each witness will be directly examined and may also be cross-examined by the opposite party. Whatever the case, the goal of examining a witness’s testimony is to identify the details of the testimony and how it applies to the case. It is during the cross-examination that the witness’s testimony is often questioned for its credibility. In some cases, the testimony might even be discredited entirely. In some cases, there may be an opportunity for another direct examination of the witness known as a re-direct examination.
Closing Arguments and the Verdict
After going through all the witness testimonies and the evidence, it will be time for the closing arguments. The closing is both a summary of all the main points of the trial and an argument about how each side thinks the jury should decide the case. From there, it will be time for the jury to deliberate after receiving legal instructions from the judge.
The deliberation process may take a while, depending on the trial. In some cases, the process may take an hour or so. In other cases, it may last much longer.
Whatever the case, once the deliberation is finished, the jurors will come to a verdict. If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, there is the possibility of the case ending in what is called a hung jury, in which case, the case will have to be tried again.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney for Your Trial
Now that you know all about the main steps of a personal injury trial in SC., you should now know how important it is to have a great personal injury trial attorney on your side. For personal injury-specific cases, we even offer a free case review. To learn more, contact us here.