What an Injury Trial is Really Like – Part 3
Now that we have picked our six person jury, we are ready for the “Opening Statement”. Please take note of the word statement as opposed to the word argument. This is not an argument. It is each party’s opportunity to tell the jury what they think the evidence will show.
A good accident attorney or accident lawyer knows the opening statement is not the time to try and convince the jury that their side is right. It is the time for each party to give the jury an outline of what the evidence will show. The opening statement is the story of the case. An experienced car accident attorney will tell the jury the rule of the case. One example is that a person must never drink and drive. A drunk driver causes car wrecks – that is why it is a rule. Another rule might be that a semi tractor trailer must drive the speed limit to avoid a highway accident. The reason for this rule is the semi tractor trailer ignores the rule it causes a fatal accident, a wrongful death case.
After the rule(s) is set out, the jury is told what the defendant did. An example might be that the defendant was a drunk driver and pulled out in front of a motorcycle causing the motor cycle accident. Another example might be that the power was not cut off to the electrical wires causing a construction accident where the person suffered electrocution.
The next part of the story is why the defendant was the cause of the injury. The last part of the story is the harms and losses caused by the defendant’s negligence. This might include 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. Whatever 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. And finally, and most importantly, how the injury affects your ability to enjoy life. The opening statement is concluded by informing the jury what the parties believe is fair compensation.
Next time we will discuss the sequencing of how the evidence is presented.