What Can I Expect If My Personal Injury Claim Goes To Trial?
A personal injury trial can last for a day, or take months, depending on the complexity of the issues. Prior to trial, the attorney will have conducted a procedure known as “discovery”. During that time, the attorney will gather all the information necessary to present the plaintiff’s case. This may involve a detailed review of documents, physical evidence, financial records, and depositions of expert witnesses.
The first step of a personal injury trial is choosing the jury. The attorneys for the plaintiff (the injured party) and the defendant (the insurance company) will question the potential jurors about their opinions and beliefs. This is to ascertain if any of these opinions and beliefs could influence a juror on any of the trial issues. Both sides have the right to eliminate a certain number of jurors that they feel would be sympathetic to the other side.
Once the jury is selected, both sides give an opening statement. This is the opportunity for the plaintiff’s attorney to describe the accident or situation that caused the plaintiff’s injury. The defense will then give their rendition of the facts, often toning down the severity of the injuries, or minimizing the liability of the insured. The plaintiff presents evidence first in a personal injury case. The attorney will have witnesses testify, some may be witnesses to the event, while others may be expert witnesses used to explain the extent of the injuries or damages. The plaintiff’s attorney will try to establish that the injuries suffered by the plaintiff were due to the fault of the other party. The attorney for the insurance company will have the opportunity to cross-examine the plaintiff’s witnesses, in an effort to discredit their testimony. Once the plaintiff has concluded its case, the defense will present evidence to show that the insured was not at fault and was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff may present rebuttal witnesses after the defense case has concluded.
Once all the evidence has been presented by both parties, the attorneys have an opportunity to make a closing argument, where they try and show the jury how the evidence they presented proves their case. The court will then instruct the jury on the applicable law that they are required to follow while they deliberate. The jurors will then be able to discuss the evidence with each other and attempt to reach an agreement on whether their verdict will support the plaintiff or the defense. If they decide that the defendant was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, they will also need to deliberate regarding what type of monetary compensation will be awarded to the plaintiff. When they have reached a verdict, they will be escorted back to the courtroom, where the verdict will be read on the record.
How Does Going To Trial Affect The Cost Of The Personal Injury Process?
Trials are expensive, and all the costs must be factored into the calculation of the anticipated settlement amount. Often the insurance adjuster may have made a settlement offer that the plaintiff thinks is too low. However, once the costs of hiring expert witnesses and the many costs associated with trial are added to the bottom line, the settlement amount may be more than any compensation that is awarded at trial. There is always a chance that the jury may award the plaintiff millions of dollars, but this is the exception rather than the rule. It is important to go over your expectations with your attorney to make sure that you are setting a realistic financial result from this entire process.
How Long Will It Take Me To Receive Funds After A Personal Injury Settlement Has Been Reached?
Once a settlement amount has been agreed upon, you will be required to sign a release form. This is a promise that you will not attempt to get more money from the insurance company for your claim. If there are outstanding liens against your settlement, those will have to be paid before you receive a check. It is important to note that if you are behind in child support payments, that amount may be taken from your settlement amount.
The insurance company will send the check to the attorney. The check will be deposited into a trust account, and the attorney will wait until the check has cleared. The attorney will deduct his or her percentage of the settlement check prior to cutting a new check for you.
What Are Some Simple Tips For Clients To Help Their Personal Injury Case?
Your attorney needs your help to effectively help you. If your attorney asks you to go and see certain doctors, make sure you go. If physical therapy is involved, do not miss sessions, it can work against you with your settlement. Make sure to keep in touch with your attorney regarding any changes in your condition. If the insurance company wants to take your deposition, dress nicely and act in a calm and professional manner. Keep all your medical receipts and bills and give them to your attorney, he or she will need to know about outstanding liens for settlement negotiations.
How Can I Assist My Attorney In Obtaining The Best Possible Outcome In My Personal Injury Claim?
It is very important that you are honest with your attorney about the extent of your injuries, he or she needs to know the details to send you to the right medical professionals. If you are suffering from emotional distress or depression due to your accident, your attorney needs to know this also. Make sure you keep all your doctor appointments and do everything that the doctor tells you to do. If you are told that you must wear a cast or brace of some sort, you need to follow your doctor’s instructions. Any deviation from your prescribed treatment plan can be used against you by the insurance company. Most significantly, you need to have a realistic expectation of what kind of settlement result you will get. Most people are not going to be awarded millions of dollars for a fender bender. Discuss your expectations with your attorney, and you will be on your way to an excellent outcome in your case.
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