What Happens If My Personal Injury Case Goes to Trial?
Most people prefer to live in peace and avoid lawsuits. Unfortunately, accident victims often have to sue the careless individual that injured them because the careless individual’s insurance carrier won’t agree to pay the accident victim fair compensation for their losses.
95% of civil lawsuits in the United States are settled prior to trial. That means that 5% of cases do go to trial. Your lawsuit might be among those 5% of cases that must be resolved by a jury trial.
If you’ve suffered a personal injury due to someone’s negligence, you should contact the Atlanta accident attorneys at Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC. The attorneys are our firm are veteran trial lawyers. We welcome the opportunity to present our clients’ cases at trial. Over the years, we’ve achieved excellent results from juries across the United States, including a $16 million dollar verdict in 2016.
How Do I Know Whether I Should Settle My Case Instead of Going To Trial?
Trial is risky for everyone. If the jury rules in your favor, the defendant’s insurance company might have to pay you hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars in compensation. If the jury rules in the defendant’s favor, you won’t recover anything.
In an effort to avoid the risk of going to trial, both sides try at some point to resolve the case through an out-of-court settlement. Nowadays, most judges even order the parties to participate in mediation before trial. Mediation is a process in which a neutral mediator tries to help the parties resolve the case before trial.
Sometimes, the insurance company offers so little compensation that you have no choice but to go to trial to obtain justice for your losses. Other times, the insurance company makes an offer that’s less than you prefer, but you might be willing to accept it in order to obtain closure and avoid the risks of trial.
One of your attorney’s responsibilities is to advise you about whether you should or should not accept an insurance company’s settlement offer. Your attorney will perform jury verdict research that shows what juries typically award accident victims with injuries similar to yours in the county in which you filed your lawsuit. That way, you can know whether it’s in your best interest to settle your lawsuit instead of going to trial.
Will I Need to Testify at Trial?
Human beings consistently report that they fear public speaking more than death. Many injury victims, therefore, are naturally anxious about the prospect of testifying at trial. For instance, the victim may fear that trial it is a “beauty contest” where the jury will quickly size them up and make a snap judgment based upon whether they like the victim or not.
In our firm’s experience, juries are actually much more thoughtful about how they evaluate a case. They carefully listen to all of the testimony and review the documentary evidence before reaching their decision. They do want to hear from you, however, so that they can understand the impact that the defendant’s misconduct has had upon your life.
Our trial lawyers at Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC appreciate how important it is for our clients to testify. Although personal injury victims are not required to testify at trial, the victim should always testify when given the opportunity, unless he or she is so seriously injured that testifying in front of a jury would be an undue burden.
We will take as much time as you need to get you prepared for trial. Although no attorney can eliminate all of your anxieties, a seasoned, empathetic lawyer will empower you to shine on your big day in court.
Why Is It Important for Me to Testify?
At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC, we typically represent victims that have been catastrophically injured in car collisions, truck collisions, slip and falls, or due to medical malpractice or a defective product. Our clients that are fortunate enough to survive the traumatic event that harmed them often will need extended future medical care. As a result, by the time that we take our clients’ cases to trial, our clients have usually suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic damages (lost wages, past medical bills, surgery costs, future medical treatment, etc.) – not to mention the pain and suffering that our clients have endured.
At the end of the trial, after we’ve presented all of our evidence, we ask the jurors to hold the defendant(s) accountable for all of the harms caused by their misconduct. In many cases, the total harms caused by the defendant(s) exceed a million dollars. The jurors then have to determine what they believe to be value of our client’s losses. We can only offer them a suggestion.
Most jurors in Georgia are hardworking middle class folks that work long hours. They are often not fairly compensated for their labor. The income that they earn goes towards their childcare expenses, rent, food, medical treatment and other essential services. Most of them don’t have a lot of savings. In fact, a recent nationwide study performed by Bankrate revealed that most Americans don’t even have enough savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 medical bill.
At the beginning of trial, before they’ve heard any evidence, some jurors might feel that hundreds of thousands of dollars is too much money for a single person, let alone a million dollars, regardless of the harm. Others that have undergone surgery similar to the surgery you underwent, that wasn’t caused by a single traumatic event like yours was (e.g. a torn meniscus repair, ACL reconstruction, or neck surgery), might ask, “no one ever paid me for my surgery, why should this victim get paid for his or her surgery?”
Despite those concerns, most jurors try to keep an open mind during the trial. They are willing to reconsider their position and potentially compensate you fully for your losses, but they want to hear from you first. They want to understand who you are and what you suffered. If you don’t testify, you lose the golden opportunity to connect with the jurors that want to get to know you better. If jurors don’t get to know you, they will typically be less inclined to offer you full compensation, particularly for your pain and suffering because that’s more challenging to measure than compensation for economic damages like medical bills.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a car or truck collision, slip and fall incident, or due to medical malpractice, you should hire a team of Atlanta accident attorneys that have the compassion to listen to your story and the resolve to help you communicate those essential truths even when you’re nervous in front of a jury. That process begins with your initial phone call.
How Does The Jury Evaluate How Much Compensation To Offer Me For My Losses?
The jury typically makes its decision by evaluating the following types of evidence that are presented at trial:
- Your testimony
- The testimony of the negligent individual that harmed you
- Testimony from eyewitnesses, such as a driver in a vehicle that wasn’t involved in the accident, but who saw the accident occur
- Testimony from your friends, family, co-workers or other people that have observed you before you were injured, and after you were injured, so that they can help the jury understand how the accident changed your life
- Testimony from the lead doctor(s) that treated you for your injuries
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists, or life care planners
- Your medical records and medical bills
- Your lost wages
Once all of the evidence is submitted, your attorney has the opportunity to make a closing argument to the jury. At that time, your attorney will explain to the jury how it can fairly compensate you, using a simple formula that takes into account all of the harms and losses that you suffered based upon the careless individual’s misconduct.
Witnesses In Personal Injury Trials
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve never participated in a personal injury trial. Indeed, 95% of all civil lawsuits are resolved prior to trial. However, sometimes the insurance company refuses to pay fair compensation to accident victims. When that occurs, an accident victim’s lawsuit may have to proceed to a jury trial.
At trial, your attorney will present evidence in the form of documents and testimony. For instance, your attorney may submit your medical bills and medical records so that the jury understands the history of your post-accident medical treatment and how much you paid for that treatment. Your attorney will also call witnesses to testify on your behalf.
If you have any questions about the witnesses that you might need to present at trial, you should contact the Atlanta accident attorneys at Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC. a $16 million dollar verdict in 2016.
What Are The Different Types of Trial Witnesses?
There are two different types of witnesses: lay witnesses and expert witnesses.
Lay witnesses testify about what they personally observed. Lay witnesses may include individuals that saw the accident occur, such as a bystander at a restaurant that looks out the window and sees the car collision occur. They also may include friends, family members, co-workers, and other members of the accident victim’s community that can explain what the victim was like before and after the accident so that the jury understands how the accident changed the victim’s life.
Other types of lay witnesses include:
- The doctor(s) that treated the accident victim’s injuries
- The physical therapist(s) that helped rehabilitate the accident victim’s injuries
- The accident victim’s supervisor
- The at fault individual that harmed the victim
- The at fault individual’s employer
The second type witnesses are expert witnesses. Expert witnesses provide testimony to help explain evidence that is more complicated, such as the speed of the at fault driver’s vehicle at the moment his vehicle collided with the accident victim’s vehicle.
Expert witnesses may include:
- Economists that can explain the value of the accident victim’s lost wages and lost future earning capacity.
- Vocational rehabilitation consultants that can explain the types of jobs that the victim might be able/unable to perform as a result of their injuries.
- Engineers that can explain the impact forces of a collision and how those forces might injure a victim.
- Accident reconstructionists
- Medical doctors
What Happens If The Insurance Company Hires Its Own Expert Witnesses?
Sometimes, the insurance defense attorneys hire a paid expert to challenge your case. The defense lawyers will pay that expert thousands of dollars to give an opinion that seemingly contradicts the evidence that you have presented, such as how your injuries were caused or what your future physical limitations will be following the accident.
In most cases where the accident victim had to undergo surgery as a result of the incident, the defense will hire a paid doctor. That doctor will never have examined you. He will only have reviewed some of your medical records. He won’t even know what you look like. The paid doctor will say whatever the defense lawyers pay him to say – if he didn’t, they wouldn’t ever hire him!
Fortunately, your lawyer has the opportunity to cross-examine the defense’s paid doctor at trial. Some injury lawyers find that task daunting because the doctor usually has a long list of credentials and he’s testified in many other trials. At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC, we are thrilled by the opportunity to cross-examine the defense lawyer’s paid doctor.
We know that if we carefully prepare for that moment, we can establish one or more of the following: 1) that the paid doctor is a liar; 2) that the paid doctor doesn’t know what he’s talking about; or, 3) that the paid doctor has taken extreme positions because has no compassion for suffering victims. In many cases, the paid doctors actually have to agree with most of the opinions our client’s treating doctor has made because he knows that if he disagrees with the treating doctor, he will look silly.
Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC Can Help
At Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC, our lawyers have recovered tens of millions of dollars for injured victims and their families. We understand that those successes were only possible because we took the time to master our clients’ cases and ensure that we were fully prepared to succeed at trial.