A personal injury case to recover for losses or harms sustained during a car accident often involves the same basic procedural steps such as filing court papers including the complaints, answers, and motions, the discovery phase to gather facts and take depositions, and seek pre-trial resolution through negotiation procedures.1 If a case proceeds through each of these phases without settlement, then a lawsuit will proceed to trial, but in most instances a claim will be resolved before the parties see the inside of a courtroom.
Steps At The Trial Stage
There are six primary stages in a car accident case: jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony with cross examination, closing arguments, jury instruction, and jury deliberation with verdict announcement.2
The first stage of selecting a jury focuses on lawyers asking potential jurors a series of questions in the presence of the judge, in order to weed out any potential jurors who have biases or prejudices.3 Beginning with the plaintiff’s side, each attorney then makes an opening statement that introduces the basic position they seek to prove and lay out the foundation stage for the jury.4 Next, the plaintiff, who has the burden of proof, makes the first presentation of evidence which includes calling bystander or expert witnesses and the plaintiff to testify about the events.5 The defendant follows a similar pattern of presenting evidence after the plaintiff’s attorney rests his or her case.6 Both the defendant and plaintiff are then given the opportunity to make closing arguments that function as a summation of what evidence was presented and provide an opportunity to make any final statements that will persuade the jury to draw certain conclusions and make a correlated verdict.7
At this point in the trial, the focus shifts from the parties to the role played by the jury. The jury will be provided with instructions as to what legal standards are to be used in reaching a decision and then the jury is given the opportunity to deliberate and reach a verdict.8 The goal of the attorneys presenting evidence and the legal requirement of the jury is to find legal responsibility or liability based on the preponderance of the evidence.9
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have suffered a loss or harm during a car accident, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call The Bruning Law Firm at 314-735-8100.