What an Injury Trial is Really Like – Part 1
A civil injury jury trial is nothing like what you see on TV. Usually there is no one in the gallery. The press is usually not stationed outside the door. The lawyers are not usually yelling at each other, the witness or the judge. If the trial is being conducted by a competent Judge, and a good injury lawyer, the trial can be fascinating.
Let’s set the stage. You are in a car wreck with a drunk driver. You are in a truck accident with a semi tractor trailer. You are riding a motorcycle and are in a highway accident. You are in a construction accident. You are injured. The injury could be a brain injury. It could be a spinal cord injury or a back injury. You might be a paraplegic or a quadriplegic. You might have a burn injury. What ever the injury, you have medical bills and you have lost wages. You might not be able to return to work. You are worried how you are going to be able to feed and cloth your kids, and be able to pay your medical bills.
You hire a good accident lawyer. The good injury lawyer knows that any case can go to trial. He prepares the case by doing a thorough investigation (see December Blog entries for a discussion of why an immediate investigation is essential) and talking to the witnesses. After a complaint is filed, the case goes through discovery and then an attempt at settlement is made. If the defendant’s (the person who was negligent and caused your injuries) insurance company will not offer to compensate the injured person fairly, a jury trial is the next step. Remember every car and truck has liability insurance and every contractor has insurance. In fact in every trial where a person is injured and the injured person is asking for fair compensation the person who was negligent has insurance. Unfortunately the insurance companies will not let the accident attorney tell this to the jury so I am telling you now, remember it.
The jury trial takes place in the county court house. The court sends out summons to prospective jurors. These folks come to the court house on the proper day. They watch a video about the jury trial process and then they wait to see to which Court they will be assigned. Just because they are being sent to any court does not mean they will be jurors. The judge will ask questions of the group. If the prospective juror knows any of the parties, or is being represented, or has been represented, by either of the lawyers, if the prospective juror is over 65, is in poor health or cannot hear, they will be excused from jury duty. There is a list of reasons why a person will be exempted from duty. If you are not in one of these groups the process continues. We will pick this discussion up in our next blog.