The vast majority of personal injury claims settle before trial. Whether it’s an insurance company, a large corporation, or an individual, most parties want to avoid the time, stress, and cost of going to trial. Most parties, including the plaintiff, would rather resolve their claim quickly, even if it means settling for less. However, some parties refuse to make reasonable settlement offers. Accepting a low offer that does not address the long term effects of your injury is not worth a quick resolution. If the party responsible for your injury is unwilling to negotiate, Bryan W. Crews, your Orlando personal injury attorney will zealously advocate on your behalf. As a seasoned Orlando personal injury lawyer, Bryan W. Crews is prepared to litigate your claim all the way to trial. The trial process can be lengthy and is sometimes complex. The following is a short overview of what you can expect if your claim does not result in a settlement.
Prior to trial, depending on your facts and jurisdiction, your personal injury claim may be resolved through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. Negotiating with the party responsible for your injury can take place over the phone, in person, through email, etc. The back-and-forth of negotiating includes an estimate of your damages and what the responsible party is willing to pay. Mediation and arbitration are more formal methods of resolving a claim. While different, both involve sitting down with a neutral third party that guides the negotiation process. Unfortunately, regardless of the method, some cases do not resolve at this early stage. If you have been injured and are left without compensation, the following is an overview of the trial process.
Filing and Discovery
The one filing the lawsuit is called the plaintiff, and the party defending the lawsuit is called the defendant. As the plaintiff, you are the master of your lawsuit. The plaintiff makes a number of decisions such as what claims to bring, where to file, and which parties to sue that have a strategic significance.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff and defendant begin the discovery process. At the time of filing, most plaintiffs do not have all the evidence they need to succeed. Having all the evidence is not required in order to file. Discovery is an opportunity for the plaintiff to uncover more information and the facts necessary to win at trial. Plaintiffs with no basis for filing are barred from using discovery as a “fishing expedition.” This means that courts will dismiss complaints filed by plaintiffs that want to use discovery just to find information. Complaints must be filed in good faith, and abuse of the discovery process will not be tolerated by judges.
The most common discovery tools are interrogatories, requests for production, and depositions. Interrogatories are questions asked of one party by the other, and they must be answered. Requests for production are evidentiary requests, such as a request for emails or financial records. Depositions are similar to in-court testimony and are taken under oath. Depositions often last much longer than in-court testimony, and statements from depositions are often admissible at trial.
If the exhaustion of discovery does not compel a settlement amongst the parties, a trial will commence. Depending on the type of case, and the jurisdiction, the plaintiff may have the option of trial by jury or a bench trial. The number of jurors may depend on state law. Jury selection is called voir dire, and each side vets potential jurors through a series of questions to eliminate bias. Once the jury is selected, the judge will schedule a trial date.
Trials can be complex and their length depends on the complexity of the case, number of witnesses, and a variety of other factors. All the components of a trial would be far too exhaustive for this brief overview. However, a few of the main components are opening statements, witness testimony, cross-examination, the presentation of physical evidence, and closing arguments. Once the trial has concluded, the jury deliberates and the verdict is read aloud in the courtroom.
If you have been injured, contact the offices of Bryan W. Crews today, your Orlando personal injury attorney.