A personal injury case arises from injuries caused by another person’s negligence. It covers wounds and losses suffered in car accidents, dog bites, truck accidents, medical negligence cases, etc. If you find yourself involved in a personal injury lawsuit, it is prudent to know what to expect at different stages of the case.
You need information on the process to adequately prepare for it and not have unmet expectations. This article takes an in-depth look at pre-trial and trial procedures for personal injury cases. If you need a Maryland personal injury attorney, contact us at Pinder Plotkin LLC.
How Pre-Trial and Trial Procedures for Personal Injury Cases Go
Generally, injury victims prefer to file an insurance claim and get a payout than going to trial. This is understandable as trials take longer and cost more than insurance claims. However, insurance companies and injury victims sometimes reach an impasse and disagree.
The preceding is often the case where:
- There is a disputed fact about the accident or injury
- The fault party’s insurer offers the victim a lowball settlement.
- The victim sustained severe or catastrophic injuries
- There is evidence of gross misconduct by the fault party, and the victim wants to ask for punitive damages
In either of these scenarios, the victim has no choice but to file a personal injury lawsuit. After commencing the case, the court will order the parties — the plaintiff and the defendant — to have a pre-trial conference. After the pre-trial conference, the car may or may not proceed to trial. We discuss the two one after the other.
The pre-trial conference is for hashing out legal matters concerning the case before the trial starts. The meeting is between the judge, the parties to the lawsuit, and their lawyers. It removes any unnecessary issue and bars it from getting raised during trial. In addition, both parties file and discuss pretrial motions and other procedural matters.
During a personal injury lawsuit pre-trial conference, the judges and lawyers meet for the following reasons:
- To identify legal issues concerning the trial
- Eliminate claims and defenses that would be considered frivolous
- Identify documents that both parties can enter as evidence
- Identify and agree on witnesses
- Obtain admissions of guilt or liability from the parties
- Create a schedule for when the lawyers need to submit motions and briefs
- Discuss rulings on submitted motions
- Determine if both parties are willing to settle out of court
If both parties agree to settle, the case ends there and will not proceed to trial. However, we should point out that pre-trial conferences birth new conflicts that might destroy the chances of settling. The only way to resolve the new conflict is through a trial.
During a trial, the judge or jury examines the evidence presented to reach a decision. Since personal injury cases are civil, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (victim). This is because he who asserts must prove. Hence, the plaintiff must show how the defendant’s actions amounted to negligence and hurt them.
A trial has six stages:
- Choosing a jury
- Opening statements
- Witness testimony and cross-examination
- Closing arguments
- Jury instruction
- Jury deliberation and verdict
If the personal injury case is tried before a jury, the judge, plaintiff, and defendant will select the jury members. To do this, they will choose unbiased people whose personal prejudices will not affect the case. After the jury selection, the trial commences with opening statements from the plaintiff and the defendant’s lawyers.
Both attorneys present their client’s version of the fact during opening statements and urge the jury to grant their prayer. The plaintiff’s prayer is granting their claim and awarding maximum compensation. For the defendant, the jury can dismiss the case by upholding their defense. The next stage is calling witnesses.
Witnesses serve to confirm or dispute the parties’ version of events. After a witness testifies, the other party can cross-examine them in an attempt to distort their testimony. Next, the attorneys for both parties enter their final argument, after which the judge instructs the jury on the legal standards for reaching a decision.
The jury goes away to deliberate based on the evidence presented and the provisions of the law. After deliberating, the jury can either find in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. If they are for the plaintiff, the person gets compensation. If not, they lose and can choose to appeal the decision.
Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC Today!
Our Maryland personal injury lawyers can explain more about a pre-trial conference and trial to you. In addition, we will help you get maximum compensation from the fault party. Schedule a free case review with us today.