The vast majority of personal injury claims settle out of court. It’s estimated that perhaps four to five percent of cases actually go to trial. If you’re one of the rare few parties who can’t come to an agreement before trial, you’re probably wondering what to expect. Jury duty is one thing, but when it’s your own case, the stakes are higher and you may need to testify.
Here’s what to expect and how to prepare with your attorney.
Why do cases go to trial?
When two or more parties hire lawyers to solve a conflict, there’s usually some evidence supporting their legal claim. For example, if you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you might have medical records, surveillance footage, witness testimony and accident reports to corroborate your claims.
Whether you’re sending a demand letter to an insurance company or an individual defendant, your lawyer will offer evidence to support their legal theory of the case. They can continue acquiring evidence through the discovery process.
Usually, if there’s strong enough evidence to prove liability, the opposing party will agree or offer to settle out of court. Your lawyer may negotiate a deal on your behalf, which you are free to accept or decline.
If you decline a settlement for any reason, or if the defendant feels they have a strong case themselves, the case may proceed to trial. For most claims, however, trial is riskier than accepting a settlement.
What to expect from trial
The lead-up to trial can be lengthy. It may be a year or more before your case is heard in front of the judge and jury, and trial may take days, weeks or even months, depending on the case. You and your lawyer may participate in various pretrial proceedings, including depositions, discovery requests and pretrial conferences, which are designed to facilitate the gathering of evidence and potential settlement agreements.
Clients often wonder if they will be called to testify. That’s a decision best left up to your lawyer, but it can be extremely helpful to tell your own story. If your lawyer feels it’s best for you to testify, they’ll also work with you to prepare ahead of time. They’ll work with you on everything from what you should wear to how you should answer confusing questions from the defense. You won’t be thrown up on the witness stand with no warning, and neither will anyone else testifying on your behalf.
In short, you’re extremely unlikely to go to trial—but if you do, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare for your part, alongside your attorney.
Discuss your personal injury claim with an Ohio lawyer
When you’re injured as a result of someone else’s negligence ore recklessness, you deserve compensation for your injuries, lost wages and more. I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877-614-9524 for a consultation, and we’ll work to get what you deserve—whether we settle out of court or go to trial.