What Happens If My Personal Injury Case Goes to Trial?
Most people prefer to live in peace and avoid lawsuits. Unfortunately, accident victims often have to sue the careless people that injured them. 97% of civil lawsuits settle prior to trial. 3% of cases are tried. If your case goes to trial, you need to hire a personal injury trial lawyer.
Should I Settle My Case?
Trial is risky. If the jury rules in your favor, the defendant’s insurance company might have to pay you lots of money. If the jury rules in the defendant’s favor, you won’t recover anything.
In an effort to avoid the risks of trial, the parties try to settle the case. However, sometimes the insurance company won’t offer you what you deserve. In that case, you have to go to trial to obtain justice. Other times, the insurance company makes an offer that’s less than you prefer. However, you might accept it to obtain closure and avoid the risks of trial.
Your personal injury trial lawyer will explain whether you should accept the insurance company’s settlement offer. They’ll show you jury verdict research that demonstrates what juries typically award accident victims with injuries like yours. That way, you’ll know whether the insurance adjuster’s offer is reasonable.
Will I Need to Testify at Trial?
Most people fear public speaking more than death. Therefore, many injury victims are anxious about testifying at trial. They fear that trial is a “beauty contest” where jurors will quickly size them up and make a snap judgment about them.
Fortunately, juries thoughtfully evaluate each case. First, they review the documentary evidence. Then, they carefully listen to each witnesses’ testimony. They want to hear from you, as well, so that they can understand the harms you’ve suffered.
Our personal injury trial lawyers at Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers know how important it is for our clients to testify. Although personal injury victims aren’t required to testify at trial, they should always testify unless they’re catastrophically injured.
We’ll take as much time as you need to get you ready to testify. That way, you’ll shine on your big day in court.
Witnesses In Personal Injury Trials
There are two different types of trial witnesses: lay witnesses and expert witnesses.
Lay witnesses testify about what they personally observed. Lay witnesses often include eyewitnesses. They also may include friends, family members, and co-workers that can explain what the victim was like before and after the accident.
Other types of lay witnesses include:
- Medical doctors
- Physical therapists and chiropractors
- The defendant
- The defendant’s employer
The jury also typically hears expert witness testimony. Expert witnesses explain complicated evidence. For instance, the victim may present expert testimony from an accident reconstructionist.
Expert witnesses may include:
- Economists that explain the value of the accident victim’s lost wages and lost future earning capacity.
- Vocational rehabilitation consultants that explain the types of jobs that the victim might be able/unable to perform as a result of their injuries.
- Engineers that explain the collision impact forces and how they might injure a victim.
- Medical doctors
Will My Doctor Testify At My Personal Injury Trial?
The insurance defense lawyers will try to persuade the jury that your injuries were caused by something other than the subject incident. For instance, they might suggest that your injuries were pre-existing. Also, they might argue that your injuries worsened because you didn’t follow your doctor’s orders. In some cases, the defense even accuses you of faking your injuries.
The jury naturally wants to hear your treating doctor’s testimony. Once your doctor proves that your injuries were caused by the subject incident, they will know that the defense is just making up excuses to avoid paying you what you deserve.
What Happens If The Insurance Company Hires Expert Witnesses?
Sometimes, the insurance defense attorneys hire a paid “expert” to challenge your case. The defense lawyers will pay that “expert” thousands of dollars to give opinions that seemingly contradict your evidence. For instance, their “expert” may challenge how your injuries were caused.
Often, the defense will hire a paid doctor. That doctor won’t have examined you. He won’t even know what you look like. He’ll only have reviewed some of your medical records. The paid doctor will say whatever the defense lawyers pay him to say – if he didn’t, they wouldn’t ever hire him!
Fortunately, your lawyer has the opportunity to cross-examine the defense’s paid doctor at trial. Some injury lawyers find that task daunting because the doctor usually has lots of credentials and he’s testified in many other trials. At Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers, our personal injury trial lawyers are thrilled by the opportunity to cross-examine the defense lawyer’s paid doctor.
We know that if we carefully prepare for that moment, we can establish one or more of the following:
- the paid doctor is a liar
- he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or
- he’s taken extreme positions because has no compassion for accident victims.
In many cases, the paid doctor actually has to agree with most of our client’s treating doctors’ opinions. Otherwise, he looks silly.
How Does The Jury Calculate My Personal Injury Trial Award?
The jury calculates its award by evaluating the following types of trial evidence:
- Your testimony
- The defendant’s testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
- Your family and friends’ testimony
- Your treating doctor’s testimony
- Expert witness testimony
- Your medical records and medical bills
- Your lost wages
Once all of the evidence is submitted, your personal injury trial lawyer will make a closing statement to the jury. That statement explains how the jury can compensate you. Simply put, the jurors must consider all of the harms and losses that you suffered.
Some jurors might feel that hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars is too much money for a single person, regardless of the harms. Others may have undergone the same surgery as you, but it wasn’t caused by a traumatic event. Those jurors might wonder, “no one ever paid me for my surgery, why should this victim get paid for his or her surgery?”
Despite those concerns, most jurors keep an open mind during trial. They are willing to put their biases aside and do the right thing.
Our Trial Lawyers Can Help You
At Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers our personal injury trial lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for injured victims and their families. Those successes were only possible because we took the time to master our clients’ cases and ensure that we were fully prepared for trial.