Not all personal injury claims make it to a jury trial. In fact, most are settled with insurance carriers before a lawsuit becomes a necessity. However, in the event an at-fault party or insurance carrier denies a claim or refuses to offer a fair settlement, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be the only option for injury victims.
It is important to know what to expect during a personal injury trial in Kentucky. No two claims are the same, but there are typically many similarities. Injury victims should work with a trusted Lexington personal injury lawyer every step of the way to help ensure the integrity of their claims.
A jury will need to be selected before the actual case can be heard. Potential jurors will be brought into the courtroom, more than will be needed for the actual case. Many of these potential jurors will need to be excused for various reasons. A judge will question the potential jurors along with attorneys for both parties.
After a jury is chosen, each attorney will get to address them with an opening statement that describes what the evidence will show during the trial. Opening statements will last approximately 30 minutes to an hour, and every party involved will get a chance to give their own opening statements.
This is the “meat” of the trial, so to speak. At this stage, both the plaintiff’s attorney and the attorney for the defendants will present their evidence to the jury. Lawyers may call on witnesses and experts to give testimony in order to strengthen their case and establish the facts. Physical evidence, such as medical reports, photographs, video surveillance footage, and more, may also be presented to the jury.
Witnesses get called to the stand and sworn in. This means they will be under oath and are required to tell the truth, or they could face penalties. The party who called the witness will get to question them first, and the opposing parties will get a chance to cross-examine the witness. After the cross-examination, the party who originally called the witness can ask some additional follow-up questions.
After both sides have called their witnesses, they will rest their cases. At this point, there will be a closing argument offered by all parties involved. This is similar to the opening statements but is meant to summarize the evidence and make a final argument for a favorable ruling.
After closing arguments, the jury will receive their instructions from the judge. This means they will hear a set of legal standards they need to use to help them decide whether or not the defendant should be held accountable for the plaintiff’s harm. The judge will instruct the jury about the findings that they need to make in order to arrive at certain conclusions, and then the jury will go to deliberate.
Jury deliberations take place outside of the actual courtroom in a nearby room. Sometimes, jurors have questions about instructions, or they want to review some of the testimony they have already heard. As a group, the jurors will hear the case and attempt to agree on whether or not the defendant should be held liable. If they do agree that the defendant should be held liable, they will also determine the appropriate compensation the plaintiff should receive. After a jury has reached their decision, they will notify the bailiff, who notifies the judge, who then notifies the attorneys. The attorneys and other parties involved will come back to the courtroom and hear the jury verdict.