Going to court for a personal injury trial can be an intimidating process. However, having an expert personal injury attorney at your side helps a lot. What happens if you have to go to court to reach a settlement for your personal injury case? Let’s break down what happens and what you can do to ensure your case is strong.
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Do I Have to Go to Court for a Personal Injury Case?
Many people are injured every day through the reckless acts of others. When it comes to compensation for injuries and other damages, a personal injury claim is the best way to fight for possible payout. How do you know when your personal injury case is going to court?
It’s important to understand that not all personal injury cases go to court. Many cases are settled beforehand, which means the two (or more) parties agree to a settlement amount for damages. This settlement can occur when there is strong evidence supporting liability of the other party, there is no disagreement on liability, the injuries are minor, and compensation is agreed upon without further issue.
Settlements keep personal injury cases out of court. Accepting a settlement means rejecting the chance to go through any court proceedings in the future. The opportunity to get a payout instead of going to court may seem like an appealing idea. However, it’s important to take into consideration the payout amount and what your chances would be if you took the case to court.
Sometimes going to court may be the better opportunity to ensure you are not getting lowballed when it comes to receiving compensation for your injuries. If you and the other party cannot come to an agreement over liability or the compensation amount, then moving on to a court trial will be the ultimate conclusion to any negotiation attempts.
What Occurs Before a Personal Injury Trial?
Before a personal injury trial, there are a few things that happen beforehand. These proceedings are to attempt to reach a settlement and keep the case from going to court. When filing for a personal injury trial in the state of California, you can expect a few things to happen.
Before a personal injury trial, your personal injury attorney will walk you through other steps to attempt to obtain compensation beforehand.
File a Lawsuit
To get the personal injury case started, your personal injury lawyer will first file a lawsuit. This names you as the plaintiff and injured party, while the other party is referred to as the defendant. The defendant will then be served the legal paperwork concerning the lawsuit.
You Respond to an Interrogatory
The next step is responding to an interrogatory. You will receive written questions from the other party’s attorney. Your attorney will also submit questions on your behalf for the other party to answer.
Deposition and Submitting Evidence
Both you, the other party, and any witnesses provide a deposition. This means a statement under oath of the events. You will submit any further evidence, including possibly going under further medical examination to prove injuries.
Arbitration and Final Settlement Attempt
You may have heard of the term arbitration. When it comes to personal injury cases, arbitrators (neutral parties trained to review evidence and resolve cases) will take into consideration all evidence and come to a decision. However, one or both parties may reject the arbitrator’s decision, leading to a trial in court.
One final settlement conference may be held to see if you and the other party can come to an agreement. However, further disagreement in this conference and failure to settle will ensure the case goes to court.
What Do I Have to Prove in Court?
In order to obtain compensation in a personal injury trial, you must prove the defendant owed you a duty of care and failed to provide it. This is the basis for any personal injury case. If you cannot prove this, there is ultimately no case.
There has to be a link between the other party’s breach of duty of care and your injuries. This is how you can fight for your chance of compensation. When your personal injury trial occurs, you can expect the following to happen:
A Jury Will Be Selected
This will include the standard process for selecting jurors, with both sides questioning each juror and selecting a few.
Opening Statements Will Be Presented
This is where both parties will try and hold each other accountable with differing statements. An injured party will provide insight on their claim, while the party being held liable may focus their statement on lack of fault.
Testimonies and Evidence Will Be Shown
Just as any standard trial, jurors will get to see photographs, videos, witness testimonies, supporting documents, and other evidence from both sides.
Closing Arguments are Provided
Closing arguments will be given by both lawyers to prove their case. Both lawyers will attempt to appeal to jurors.
Jurors Will Deliberate
Following closing arguments will be the jury instruction and deliberation. Jurors will be instructed by the judge on how to proceed with their deliberations and verdicts. Then, they will be given allotted time to deliberate.
Jurors Reach a Verdict
The state of California requires unanimous verdicts from the jury. If not possible, there may be a second trial provided. If the jury is in favor of the injured party, an award amount will also be specified.
A trial can feel like an intimidating event, but being confident in your case and having a professional personal injury lawyer by your side can help! Every personal injury case is different, and what matters most is having supporting evidence and being honest about the incident.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney for Court?
If you are injured due to another person’s negligence and reckless actions, you shouldn’t have to pay for injuries and medical treatment out of your own pocket. Personal injury claims can ensure you hold the liable party accountable. You can use financial compensation from a claim to cover items such as:
- Medical treatment, medications, surgery, etc.
- Car repairs or other property repairs
- Loss of income from being unable to work
- Future physical therapy or injury care
- Non-economic damages, such as decreased quality of life and pain and suffering
California’s statute of limitations for almost all personal injury cases is 2 years. It is vital you file your personal injury claim as soon as possible after an incident.
Though most personal injury cases are resolved and reach a settlement outside of court, each case is unique. If you and the other party fail to reach a settlement or continue to disagree concerning liability, your case may make it to court.
Because court can be a tricky process to navigate, having a personal injury attorney is highly recommended. The personal injury lawyer representing you will have your back and support you when it comes to what kind of evidence to provide the court, offer legal advice, and more.
If you are in the beginning stages of filing a personal injury claim, sit down with an expert personal injury attorney. Consult with one of our San Diego personal injury attorneys to discuss your case and possible compensation!