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(212) 697-9280

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(212) 697-9280



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What happens in a Personal Injury Trial?

Feb 24, 2016 | Personal Injury, Personal Injury FAQs

In a personal injury trial, the evidence is examined by a judge or jury to decide whether the defendant should be held legally responsible for the plaintiff’s allegations of injuries and harm. The plaintiff gets the opportunity to argue their case in a trial with the hope that a judgment against the defendant will be obtained.

The defendant also gets a chance to refute the plaintiff’s case in a trial and to offer their own evidence pertaining to the dispute. After both sides have presented their arguments, the judge or jury considers whether the defendant is liable for the injuries that the plaintiff allegedly suffered, and if so, to what extent, i.e. the amount of money damages a defendant is required to pay.

Deliberation is the jury’s first opportunity to discuss the case

Deliberation is the jury’s first opportunity to discuss the case.

There are typically six main phases in a complete personal injury trial:

Jury Selection

One of the first steps in any personal injury trial is jury selection. This is only in cases that are not tried before a judge. During jury selection, a pool of potential jurors are questioned generally and as to matters related to the particular case by the judge, and usually the plaintiff and defendant through their lawyers. Based on their responses to questioning, the judge can excuse potential jurors at this stage. At this stage, a certain number of jurors may also be excluded by both the defendant and the plaintiff through use of challenges “for cause” and “peremptory challenges”.

Opening Statements

Once jury selected is completed, two opening statements from the first “dialogue” in a personal injury trial – one of the plaintiff’s attorney, and the other from the defendant’s. At this stage, no witnesses are called to testify and, ordinarily, no physical evidence is used. Because the defendant’s legal liability for the plaintiff’s injuries must be demonstrated, the first opening statement is usually the plaintiff’s, and it is often more detailed than the defendant’s.

Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination

At the center of any personal injury trial is the stage at which key evidence and arguments are presented by each side to the jury, often known as the “case-in-chief”. In its case-in-chief, evidence is methodically presented to convince the jury that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. At this point, the plaintiff may call experts and witnesses to testify to strengthen their case.

Physical evidence, such as documents, photographs, and medical reports may also be introduced. The way a plaintiff utilizes expert testimony and documentary evidence will play an important role in proving that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s damages, especially in medical malpractice and defective product claims i.e. personal injury lawsuits that are more complicated.

Closing Arguments

Like the opening statement, the closing argument offers both sides in a personal injury lawsuit a chance to “sum up” the case. They recap the evidence in a way that is favorable to their respective positions. This is their final chance to address the jury prior to deliberations.

Thus, in closing arguments, the plaintiff seeks to show that there is enough evidence for the jury to find the defendant legally responsible for their injuries. In turn, the defendant tries to show that the plaintiff does not have enough evidence or testimony to establish the defendant’s liability for any civil judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Jury Instruction

After both sides of the case have presented their evidence and made their closing arguments, jury instruction is the next step toward a verdict. This is a process in which the jury is given the set of legal standards, it will require to make a decision on whether the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s alleged harm.

Jury Deliberation and Verdict

After they have received instruction from the judge, the jurors consider the case through a process called “deliberation”, as a group. They attempt to come to an agreement on whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s claimed injuries.

If they find the defendant liable, they try to agree on the appropriate compensation for those injuries. Deliberation is the jury’s first opportunity to discuss the case. This methodical process can last from a few hours to several weeks. Once a decision is reached, the jury foreperson informs the judge who in turn announces the verdict in open court.

If you or a loved one has been harmed or injured due to the negligent actions of another person, you should consult a skilled and tremendous personal injury lawyer in New York at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280. The first meeting is on us!

We only take a percentage of the final verdict or settlement amount. We are only paid when you are paid.