How Do Car Accident Court Proceedings Go?
While most car accident cases won’t go to court, you may very well find yourself there if you and the other parties involved in your collision can’t agree on a settlement amount.
For those who decide to present their case in court, it’s important to be aware of how car accident proceedings usually go. The car accident lawyers at Craig Swapp & Associates are here to discuss the process and help you every step of the way.
Who Will Decide Your Case
In most cases, a twelve-person jury will determine your case’s fate, although other options can be explored outside of court, usually by you, the plaintiff or injured party. For example, in Utah, car accident injury victims are afforded a number of legal options, including arbitration.
If a jury ends up deciding your case, you can rest assured that jury members will be disqualified from selection if they’re suspected of having any bias toward you or any other party.
An opening statement is intended to allow each party to present their side of the story. Typically, the plaintiff’s legal team goes first, as the plaintiff carries the legal burden of proof.
While opening statements usually only last fifteen to twenty minutes for each party, each side will later have further opportunity to convince the jury of its position.
Presentation of Evidence by the Plaintiff
Because the plaintiff is left with the burden of proof, the courts allow you to present your side first.
Usually, your attorneys will call on witnesses to validate your account of how the accident occurred, including any relevant events before or after the crash. Witnesses may include other victims of the crash or bystanders.
Other lines of questioning will warrant calling different types of witnesses to the stand. That could include, for instance, a physician, who may confirm that you actually suffered the injuries you claim.
Presentation of Evidence by the Defense
Once your lawyers have “rested” their case, the defendant’s attorneys are able to present their defense.
The protocol used by the defense is rather similar: They call witnesses who support their account to the stand, and they question them.
Because some witnesses may have seen a different scene at the accident or believe that your prognosis isn’t quite as bad as previously stated, the defense has the opportunity to refute any claims made by your side.
During closing arguments, both the plaintiff and defendant are given a final chance to summarize and rationalize their evidence to the jury, in hopes of winning a favorable verdict.
Jury Deliberation and Verdict
After both sides have made their closing arguments, the jury is given time on its own to deliberate on the verdict. Although most juries reach a verdict within hours, deliberations can sometimes take days or longer.
Once the jury delivers a verdict to the judge, it is read to both parties and considered binding.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been in a car accident, you know how stressful it is to deal with matters relating to the compensation you need. That stress will only increase if you have to go to court without a qualified attorney by your side