If you file a personal injury lawsuit, and the case goes to trial, one person or group of people will be given the designation of factfinder, which means they will be responsible for making the ultimate determination of the fate of your case. They will determine whether someone else is responsible for your injuries, and they will decide how much you receive in money damages. However, if your case is settled before it gets to trial, you may be the one to decide to accept the settlement offer. It is important to understand who decides your case in a personal injury lawsuit so you will know what to expect.
Most civil lawsuits are either handled as a jury trial or a bench trial. In a jury trial, a jury of your peers will hear your case. In a bench trial, the judge will act in the place of the jury to decide the case. Both types of trials have certain benefits and drawbacks.
Philadelphia Jury Trials
Most people's understanding of jury trials comes from watching courtroom dramas on TV. However, these shows don't always show the whole process. A jury trial usually begins with the jury selection. If the parties have not settled their case, a group of people who showed up for jury duty will be called to the court for jury selection.
During jury selection, the plaintiff's attorney and defendant's attorney will work with the judge to narrow down the jury pool to select a jury to hear the case. Your attorney will try and select jurors who appear to be sympathetic to your cause. The defendant's attorney will try and do the same for their client. Other jurors who do not appear to be impartial may also be excused from serving on the jury. Eventually, the jury pool will be narrowed down enough to comprise of a full jury to hear your case.
At the beginning of the trial, the plaintiff will present opening statements, and the defendant will respond. Then each side will present evidence in support of their case. For your case, your attorney may present evidence that shows that the defendant is responsible for causing your injuries. This may include witness statements, written evidence, video or audio evidence, and medical reports. They may also present expert testimony from an expert in their field to support your case.
The defendant's attorney will do the same for their case, to show why the defendant is not responsible for your injuries. Each side will get the chance to respond to the other's evidence and testimony. All of this evidence is presented to the jury.
After final arguments are presented to the jury, the jury will be instructed on the law. They will then be asked to apply the facts in the case to the law to come to a determination. After the jury deliberates, they will present their findings as to whether or not the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff's injuries. They may also determine how much to award the plaintiff in damages based on their injuries.
Philadelphia Bench Trials
In a bench trial, the jury does not decide the questions of fact. The judge decides both questions of law and questions of fact. The judge will also determine whether the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff's injuries, and whether to award money damages. There can be benefits to choosing a bench trial over a jury trial, depending on the specifics of your case. You should talk to your attorney about whether a bench trial may be beneficial, or if a jury trial is preferred.
Settlements in Philadelphia Personal Injury Cases
Whether you select a jury trial or a bench trial, most cases end up settling before they go to trial. Over 90% of cases are settled when the plaintiff and defendant come to an agreement on settling the case instead of risk going to trial. It is ultimately up to you, the client, to decide whether or not to accept a settlement offer.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have been injured in an accident, the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian is here to help. Our attorneys have years of experience handling personal injury lawsuits before judges and juries. We will do an in-depth investigation into your case and fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. We will keep you informed of any settlement offers so you can decide whether you want to settle your case or take it to court. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.