What Happens at an Auto Accident Trial?
Auto accident claims rarely reach trial. In fact, 98 percent of all cases are settled out of court. However, if the parties cannot agree on a fair damages award, the plaintiff may benefit from taking the claim to trial.
Texas Board Certified Personal InjuryTrial Attorney Bill Berenson has litigated auto accident claims for almost 40 years. He recognizes that the prospect of going to trial can be unnerving and intimidating to clients, most of whom have never stepped into a courtroom. He takes the time to explain to you exactly what to expect leading up to and day of trial to put your mind at ease and to prepare you as best as possible.The Discovery Process to Gather Evidence
Discovery is the process by which you and the opposing party exchange information that is relevant to the case. It is the formal process for investigating the claim. For example, our personal injury attorney typically engages in these types of discovery processes:
- Depositions. Sworn testimony in which the attorneys ask the witnesses questions, usually taken in a lawyer’s office or conference room with a court reporter creating a transcript
- Interrogatories. Written questions presented by the other party
- Request for production of documents. The other driver and insurance companies provide you with relevant documents
- Subpoenas. Used to acquire important records, such as a phone bill in a suspected texting while driving case
Trials follow a basic process designed to be fair and impartial to all parties. Each trial is a unique experience but includes these general components:
- Voir dire. This is the technical name for jury selection.
- Opening statements. Each attorney presents opening remarks as to what jurors should expect to hear.
- Direct and cross-examinations. Each lawyer calls witnesses to the stand who testify under oath in response to the attorneys’ questions.
- Submission of evidence. Each party submits physical evidence which may include photographs, video, cellphone records, doctors’ reports and other proof of the facts of the accident, liability of the driver and damages to you.
- Closing arguments. Each lawyer sums up the case for the jurors. This is the most important opportunity to convince the jury to rule in your favor.
- Verdict. The jurors deliberate whether the plaintiff proved by a preponderance of the evidence — meaning, it is more likely than not — that the defendant was at fault and the amount of damages he owes.
The courtroom is a formal place with strict rules of decorum. Following these rules makes the right impression on the judge and jurors and improves your chances of winning your case:
- Be on time. The judge has a busy calendar and expects all parties to be present at the time trial is scheduled to begin. In addition, the jurors are paid only $6.00 for the day and so are reasonably sensitive about how their time is treated.
- Dress neatly and professionally. Your appropriate dress demonstrates to the jury and judge that you have respect for the court.
- Turn off your cellphone. A ringing or vibrating cell phone is one of the surest ways to upset the judge and jury.
- Leave the kids at home. First, the courtroom is boring for children. Second, you should be paying attention to your case, not your kids, during trial.
- No matter what happens, be polite. Opposing counsel may say some things you do not like or agree with. Regardless, always remain polite and calm.
Our injury trial lawyer takes the time to fully prepare you for your auto accident trial. Call Bill Berenson to learn more about bringing a claim to trial at a free consultation.