Personal injury trials differ in length and complexity, depending on the injuries and causes. Most attorneys prefer to settle out of court because of the unpredictability of a trial. However, some cases reach a deadlock during negotiations, and a hearing is the next step to achieve restitution for the plaintiff. Unfortunately, the compensation received at judgment may equate to less than a plaintiff was hoping for, depending on a jury and judge’s decision. There are four elements that contribute to that final decision.
The primary component a jury will consider is the evidence. The evidence in a personal injury case will include pictures from the scene of the accident, medical records corroborating any injuries, receipts or bills for repairs made to property and pay stubs or tax returns if seeking lost wages.
If you are seeking general damages, like pain and suffering, you will also provide evidence of psychiatric or psychologist’s appointments. You may also need to have expert testimony to establish a connection between the psychological trauma and the accident.
- Jury Instruction
Before a jury can deliberate your case, they will receive instructions from the judge about the procedure and interpretation of the law. Most judges will instruct juries to make decisions based only on the law and not emotion. However, it is improbable to believe that juries will ignore emotional appeals, especially since the people in the jury box are not trained legal experts.
Personal injury attorneys understand a jury will not overlook an emotional appeal, and they will try to use that knowledge to their advantage. Defense attorneys almost always want to settle outside of court because they know a sympathetic plaintiff can sway a jury and sometimes a judge. Therefore, to protect their client from increased financial losses, they push for settlement offers.
Finally, even if a jury cannot see past the emotional appeal of a personal injury lawyer, the judge can. Judges interpret the law, and it is their job to ensure a fair judgment. If a judge feels a jury is making a mistake, they can set aside the jury’s decision and rule on their own, which often protects defendants from excessive punitive damages.
While personal injury trials are complex, they are often avoided. Finding a local and experienced personal injury attorney is an excellent way to ensure your case can settle outside of court. However, in the off chance your case makes it to trial, at least you’ll have legal counsel.