What Happens When a Car Accident Case Goes to Trial
Posted on August 10, 2022
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The vast majority of all car accident cases in Texas settle, meaning the injured victim reaches a settlement agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. If your case does not settle, however, your lawsuit may go to trial in Dallas County. Although a car accident trial can seem daunting, with an experienced car accident attorney by your side, you can go through each phase of a court case with greater peace of mind. Find out what happens when a car accident case goes to trial in Texas to know what to expect.
When Will a Case Go to Trial?
There are two main ways to resolve a car accident liability dispute: an insurance settlement and a personal injury lawsuit. A settlement refers to out-of-court negotiations between the insurance company and an injured party (or that party’s attorney). If a case cannot settle, it may go to trial. A personal injury trial allows both sides of a legal dispute to state their cases before a judge and jury. It is then up to the jury to decide whether the plaintiff or injured party met his or her burden of proof against the defendant.
A car accident case may have to go to trial in Texas if it involves complicated factors that cannot be worked out during settlement negotiations. Common examples are catastrophic injuries, high-value claims, liability disputes, the comparative negligence defense and insurance bad faith. If the insurance company refuses to offer a settlement that is fair and reasonable based on the victim’s losses, a victim may have no choice but to go to trial in pursuit of a just outcome.
Steps of a Car Accident Trial
If your car accident lawyer recommends going to trial to obtain the financial compensation that you deserve, he or she will explain what to expect from each phase of the court process. Your lawyer will represent you and can attend every hearing or pretrial meeting on your behalf. In general, a car accident trial will involve the following steps:
Discovery phase. This is a pretrial phase where both parties have the chance to learn what the other knows. Discovery involves an exchange of information, typically through depositions or requests for evidence. It allows both parties to prepare for the trial.
Jury selection. Once the discovery phase has ended, the attorneys representing both sides of the case will ask a panel of potential jurors a series of questions to find 12 suitable jury members.
Opening statements. On the date of the car accident trial, the trial will begin with opening statements from both parties. The opening statement is a summary of what the attorney plans on proving throughout the trial.
Presentation of evidence. Next is the presentation of evidence, where both the plaintiff and the defendant will have the opportunity to present records, documents, eyewitnesses, expert testimony and other forms of evidence to prove their cases.
Closing arguments. After all the evidence has been presented, both sides will give their closing arguments. They will discuss the evidence that was actually presented and try to persuade the jury to come to a certain conclusion.
Jury deliberation and verdict. The final stage is the jury receiving its instructions and deliberating on whether or not the plaintiff met his or her burden of proof. If so, the plaintiff will be awarded financial compensation. If not, the defendant will be found not liable.
Keep in mind that your car accident case can achieve a settlement at any time before the court date. Throughout the pretrial process, your lawyer can continue to try to reach a settlement through negotiations with the insurance provider. If your case does end up in court, your attorney will use a tailored legal strategy to optimize your odds of success. For more information about a car accident trial in Texas, contact a trial attorney at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. for a free consultation.