Filing a personal injury lawsuit means that a plaintiff will have to go through the legal system in order to seek damages for their injuries. This process can eventually lead to a trial. In a civil court trial, the plaintiff may seek a jury trial or a bench trial. Both types of trials will have a judge presiding over the case; however, the trier of fact will be different.
Personal Injury Jury Trial
The trier of fact is a person or group of individuals who determine the facts in a trial or legal proceeding. In a personal injury trial, this includes deciding who to believe when conflicting theories or testimony have been presented. It also involves making a determination as to whether a witness is being truthful or not.
If a trial is held in front of a jury, the judge will still make all determinations on matters of law. This includes what evidence is admissible or relevant, and what evidence the jury is allowed to hear. The judge also makes a determination on pretrial motions, and objections raised during trial. The judge will also approve proposed jury instructions to help the jury reach a verdict.
In a jury trial, the jury acts as the triers of fact. Most people are generally familiar with how a jury trial works, from serving jury duty or from watching courtroom television or legal dramas. The jury is drawn from the community who report to jury duty. After the jury selection process, involving the plaintiff, defense, and the judge, the jury will be selected. Both sides present evidence to the jury, and the jury is given instructions by the judge in order to come to a decision. After the jury deliberates, they will reach a verdict to determine whether the defendant is at fault, and how much to award the plaintiff.
Personal Injury Bench Trial
In a bench trial, the judge decides questions of law and questions of fact. There is no jury to hear the evidence. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case directly to the judge to determine the verdict. There are benefits and drawbacks to choosing a bench trial over a jury trial. Which type of trial may be best for your case will depend on your specific circumstances. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to walk you through the pros and cons of each in relation to your case.
A bench trial may be shorter than a jury trial. In a bench trial, the court does not have to spend time selecting the jury, instructing the jury, or waiting for the jury to decide the outcome of the case. Additionally, in cases where there are complex technical or legal issues, it may be preferable for a judge to decide the facts where a jury of laymen may be confused. In some cases, a jury trial may not be available, and the parties have no option but to continue with a bench trial.
Personal Injury Settlements
In a jury trial or bench trial, other individuals will decide the outcome of the case. However, in the majority of personal injury lawsuits,the plaintiff ultimately controls the final outcome. This is because most personal injury cases end in a settlement, rather than a trial. A settlement involves negotiations between the parties to reach an agreement. This often occurs just before trial.
Even though you are being represented by an experienced attorney, the ultimate decision to settle the case or proceed to trial is up to you as the plaintiff. Your lawyer does not have the authority to make that decision without your approval. Throughout negotiations, your lawyer will keep you informed of any progress and updates, and may recommend a settlement offer in order to avoid the uncertainty of a trial.
D.C. 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 dealing with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Pennsylvania. We will file your lawsuit in the proper court, conduct an in-depth investigation into your case, and fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. We will zealously advocate for you throughout the legal process. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.