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What Aspects to Consider If a Personal Injury Case Goes to Court

Personal injury cases may be settled outside of the court or litigated according to individual circumstances involved in each case. A personal injury attorney would determine whether the case is viable by reviewing the case and its circumstances very carefully, and in this process most attorneys utilize medical review solutions to obtain a clear view of the medical aspects involved. If the plaintiff and his/her lawyer are satisfied with a settlement made by the defense, the personal injury case may not be taken to the courthouse. If an adequate settlement cannot be reached outside of the court, the plaintiff attorney would file a lawsuit in court. The legal battle can go on for months or even years depending on the complexity of the case, and can have emotional and psychological consequences.

Personal Injury

A personal injury case could go to trial in the following instances:

  • The plaintiff and the defendant cannot agree on who is liable for the accident and injury
  • Both sides cannot agree on the compensation amount
  • The plaintiff chooses to sue.

The types of cases that are most likely to go to court are wrongful death, truck accidents, medical malpractice, whiplash, pedestrian accidents, and accidents resulting in spinal or brain damage. As the U.S. Department of Justice points out, nearly 96% of cases are settled out of court. Personal injury cases that are normally settled outside of court are property damage cases, dog bites and animal attacks, and ‘Fender bender’ accidents.

The trial gives the plaintiff the opportunity to argue his/her case; the jury would examine the evidence and arrive at a conclusion regarding what really happened. They would then give a ruling regarding whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The six phases of a personal injury trial are:

  • Selection of the jury
  • Opening statements
  • Testimony of witnesses and cross-examination
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury instruction
  • Jury deliberation and verdict

There are certain precautions the plaintiff must keep in mind in the wake of a trial.

  • Gather all the available evidence: Expert lawyers have pointed out that in any personal injury case, the plaintiff must keep in mind that the case could go to trial. Therefore, they should take care to preserve any evidence available including pictures of the car/vehicle (in case it is an auto injury case), physical trauma, damages to personal property, and also take down contact details of the witnesses. Documents related to the case such as police statements, medical records, work-related reports, insurance documents should be carefully kept.
  • Be cautious when speaking to the insurance company: Ideally, the plaintiff should consult with his/her lawyer before giving any statement to their insurance company. It is good to have a lawyer represent the plaintiff because he/she will help the plaintiff understand how to frame their statement in a way favorable to their claim.
  • Seek medical treatment as soon as possible: If the plaintiff doesn’t obtain appropriate medical care immediately, an insurance adjuster may question the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. Therefore, the plaintiff should go to the doctor as soon as possible and follow the doctor’s instructions.
  • Do not admit fault: The plaintiff should be aware that admitting fault at any point could prove detrimental to the personal injury claim. They should take care not to disclose too much information to the at-fault driver.
  • It’s best not to engage too much on social media platforms: In the middle of a personal injury case, plaintiffs should stay away from social media. The defense may be checking the plaintiff’s social media accounts to see whether they are really hurt or not. Sometimes the photos they post may reveal that they are not as much hurt as they claim to be.
  • Try to impress the jury: The jury would closely watch the plaintiff as well as his or her attorney, so they have to be careful in the courthouse also. An experienced personal injury attorney would know how to appear and behave in court and would provide the necessary advice to their clients. Dressing professionally, acting respectfully, and staying calm are important.
  • Do not lie in court: Plaintiffs should ensure that they speak only the truth in court. If the jury believes that the plaintiff is lying in any regard, it would throw doubt on the entire case, and even lead to losing the case. Plaintiffs should also be open and honest with their own lawyer to help build a strong case.

A personal injury case can be very complicated and involve a number of formalities including medical chart review, discussions with witnesses, compiling of evidence and so on. To be on the safer side, plaintiffs should make it a point to talk to their lawyer regarding what they must do in a personal injury case, and follow the advice given. Since each case is distinctive, only a trusted lawyer will be able to provide the best advice for each.

 

     

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