If you have suffered a serious personal injury and you cannot reach a settlement with the other party, your case may proceed to a jury trial. If your personal injury case ends up going to trial, you may be wondering what exactly this means and what it may entail.
When lawyers speak of “trials,” they typically mean one of two things: a jury trial, where members of your community are chosen to hear the facts of your case and reach an outcome. In a civil case stemming from an injury, the outcome is a determination of fault and liability. In Tennessee, all verdicts in civil cases must be unanimous among all 12 jurors.
What does the personal injury trial hearing process entail?
While everyone’s case is unique and different, if your case proceeds to trial both parties will have an opportunity to submit motions to the court. If the judge rules that the case can move forward, the process usually works like this:
- The jury is selected to listen and make a decision about your case.
- The opening statements are made by each party. In civil cases, the plaintiff’s attorney (that’s one of us) speaks before the defendant’s attorney (the lawyer for the other side) does.
- Witnesses are called on to give their testimony under oath about what they saw happen at the day and time of your accident. We may also call expert witnesses to the stand to give their opinions about your accident, injuries, medical or accident reports, financial burdens, and more. Both sides’ attorneys are given an opportunity to question and cross-examine any witnesses.
- If introducing medical bills, we will be required to present testimony of treating physicians.
- Closing remarks and arguments are made to the jury.
- The jury will meet and decide what they think about your case.
- The jury will announce their decision regarding your case and accident. During this step, you will learn if your case is successful, who is liable for your accident, and how much compensation you may receive. (Note: in some civil cases, damages may be determined later.)
Personal injury trials can be long and complex. You should expect the trial process could take several days or weeks to complete.
Settling while at trial
Sometimes, defendants change their minds – sometimes, in the middle of a trial. This typically happens when it becomes clear there is no path to success for their side. When the defendant’s attorney signals a willingness to settle, we must take their offer to you. You can decide to accept it, or you can decide to proceed with the trial. Our Sevierville personal injury lawyers will offer guidance and counsel about whether you should accept the offer, but the ultimate decision is up to you.
If you accept the offer, the trial stops. In most cases, the other side will ask that the outcome be kept confidential.
Why would an injury case go to trial in Sevierville, TN?
- Your personal injury attorney believes that your case may be successful and that you have a good chance of winning.
- The at-fault party’s insurance company does not want to work with you to give you the amount of compensation you are owed.
- The insurance company believes that the amount of compensation that you or your attorney is asking for is too high for your injuries or losses.
- You and your attorney want to make sure that the defendant is held accountable for your injuries and that this does not happen to anyone else in the future.
Making the decision to take your case to a trial is never easy, but it may be the best possible option for you. Our Sevierville personal injury lawyers may recommend you go to trial based on:
- How severe your injuries are and when/if you are expected to make a full recovery
- The cost of your current and future medical bills and medical treatment plans
- How much you make for a living and how much income you are losing from being out of work
- Whether you experienced any other losses from the accident
- Whether you have a family or anyone depending on you
- Whether a judge or jury may sympathize or be in favor of your side of the story
Are there benefits for choosing to go to trial instead of settling outside of court?
There are both benefits and drawbacks when choosing to go to trial instead of settling outside of court.
- You may be able to get more answers about your accident than you would have if you settled outside of court. This is because trials can provide answers to questions, giving a sense of closure to the plaintiff.
- You may be able to obtain more compensation than originally expected. This is because the judge or jury may decide that you are entitled to more compensation than the insurance company would have ever agreed to give.
- Trials typically take a long time from start to finish. As a result, your case may take longer to resolve, causing you to wait a long period of time for the compensation you deserve.
- Juries are unpredictable, which means you are taking a chance on an outcome. Unlike a settlement, where you are guaranteed some compensation, a jury trial loss can leave you with nothing.
If you suffer injuries from an accident caused by someone else, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Sevierville personal injury lawyers at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC at your earliest convenience. We know and understand that you are going through a difficult time right now, which is why we are here to assist you and guide you through the entire legal process, including the court trial hearing. Our team welcomes clients from Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge to call or fill out our contact form to schedule a free case evaluation today. We look forward to meeting and speaking with you soon!
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.