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Steps in Personal Injury Trial

Most auto crash cases settle. But, sometimes taking a claim to trial can yield better results.

Your car crash trial may be your first experience with the judicial system. You, therefore, may not know what to expect out of the process. To ease your concerns, I have created an outline of a Texas trial.

Rest assured, we thoroughly review the trial process prior to your trial date so you can feel confident when you step into the courtroom. Schedule a free consultation with Berenson Injury Law to learn more.

Jury selection

In Texas county courts, a jury of six of your peers will decide your auto accident claim. Jury selection gives you the opportunity to choose who will hear your case. Through a process called voir dire, I ask prospective jurors questions to eliminate those whose biases might render them unable to be fair and impartial about your claim.

Opening statements

First, I present an opening statement that explains to the jurors what the case is about and to outline the evidence. The defense attorney then gives an opening statement to represent the defendant’s position.

Admission of evidence

As the plaintiff in the case, you must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the other driver’s negligence caused the automobile accident, that you were injured in the wreck, and that you sustained X amount of damages. This is referred to as the burden of proof.

To prove your case, I might present eye-witnesses’ testimony, expert testimony, doctors’ reports, diagnostic test results, photographs, repair bills and videos and graphics to reenact the crash. For a distracted driving crash, I might admit telephone bills into evidence. For a drunk driving accident, I might admit breathalyzer and field sobriety results.

Examination and cross-examination

You will have the opportunity to tell your side of the story and to question the negligent driver and any witnesses to the accident. I call you to the stand, where you are sworn in. After I ask you questions during examination, the defense lawyer asks you questions during cross-examination. Prior to the trial, we review the questions I plan to ask and that we anticipate the defense lawyer will ask, so you are well prepared.

Motions and judge’s rulings

Prior to and throughout your trial, the defense lawyer and I will each make several motions to the judge. For example, before the trial even begins, I might make a written motion in limine to keep evidence out of the trial. I also might object to the defense’s attempt to admit evidence or ask certain questions of witnesses. The judge will respond with either overrule, meaning the evidence is admissible, or sustain, meaning the evidence is inadmissible.

Closing argument

During closing arguments, the defense lawyer and I each make one final statement to the jurors. I summarize the evidence presented in the case and explain how the evidence proves your case.

Jury deliberation

The jury retires to a private room to engage in confidential deliberations, which could take less than an hour or several days, depending upon the complexity of the case. Five-sixths of the jurors must conclude whether the defendant is liable to reach a verdict. Otherwise, the trial results in a hung jury.

Verdict

Once the jurors reach a verdict, the judge calls all parties into the courtroom. The jury foreperson hands the verdict to the judge who reads the verdict.

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