WHAT IS TRIAL LIKE?
In a personal injury or wrongful death case, a trial presents evidence that tells a story about:
- who was at fault and what negligent conduct occurred
- what losses where caused by the negligent conduct
- who was harmed and how has this harm affected a human being
- what fair and reasonable compensation should the jury award
A judge, trained in the law, presides over the trial to make sure both sides of the case get a fair opportunity to “put on” evidence. What evidence is presented depends entirely on the experience and skill of the attorney representing the Plaintiff or Defendant.
The Plaintiff is the party that brings the lawsuit. The Defendant is the party sued. Trials generally take 2 to 3 days if there are just two parties, and can take much longer when many defendants or witnesses testify. Often times, complicated expert witness testimony takes time to explain.
A trial follows a basic process. First, the Plaintiff’s attorney makes an opening statement. The Defendant’s attorney can give an opening statement at that time, or wait until the Plaintiff has put on all proof. After opening statement, the Plaintiff then puts on proof . The Defendant then puts on proof. When all the proof is in, and after all motions by the attorneys are decided, the Judge instructs the Jury on the law, and the Defendant makes a closing argument followed by the Plaintiff. After closing arguments, the Jury goes into the Jury Room to deliberate on a Verdict. Once the Jury reaches a Verdict, the Jury returns to the Courtroom and the Verdict is announced in open court.
Trials usually begin around 8:30 in the morning and conclude around 5:00 in the afternoon, but the Judge can, and usually does, change the schedule as necessary.