The overwhelming majority of car accident claims are eventually settled, often before a lawsuit is filed in the case. However, that still leaves a small percentage of car accident cases that do make their way to trial. If your car accident case ends up going to trial, here’s what you can expect.
Types of Trials
A trial is a formal proceeding in which both sides to a legal dispute present their arguments and evidence to a factfinder, who then issues a decision resolving the dispute. Car accident cases may be tried before a jury, who acts as the factfinder in the case, or they may be tried in a bench trial, where the judge presiding over the case acts as the factfinder.
Proving Fault for a Car Accident at Trial
During the trial, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony. However, as the plaintiff, you have the burden of proving your case. If you cannot prove your case, the factfinder must find in favor of the defendant. In a car accident claim, you only have the burden to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. That means you only need to show that it was more likely than not that the other side was negligent or reckless or breached some legal duty, and that their actions and/or omissions were the cause of the accident and your injuries.
You will usually prove your case by presenting evidence such as accident scene photos or video, police accident reports, and accident reconstruction reports. You will also likely introduce evidence in the form of your medical records from the treatment of your injuries. Finally, you likely will also present testimony, including your own testimony regarding your recollection of the accident and how your injuries have impacted you, along with expert testimony from accident reconstruction experts to explain what happened in the crash and testimony from your treating physicians and other medical experts to explain your injuries.
The defendant or defendants will have the opportunity to cross-examine your evidence and testimony or object to its introduction and may introduce evidence and testimony of their own that counters the allegation in your case.
Once both sides finish presenting evidence, each side will usually give a closing argument to the jury or judge to recount the evidence and argue for a judgment in their favor.
If a case is tried before a jury, at the close of the case the judge will provide the jury with instructions on the law they are to apply to the facts that the jury will find from the evidence. The jury will then deliberate together and vote on a decision in favor of one party or the other.
If the judge sits as factfinder in the case, they assume the jury’s role and will consider the evidence to render a decision.
Verdict and Judgment
Either the jury or the judge will issue a verdict finding in favor of one party or the other. If the verdict is in your favor, the verdict will also rule on how much compensation you are to be awarded. In a jury trial, the judge will reduce the jury’s verdict to a judgment (as a jury may award an amount of compensation not permitted by law), which acts as the enforceable court order. Any party unhappy with the decision can choose to file an appeal.
Contact a Hazlet Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza, PC represent clients injured because of car accidents in Piscataway, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Middletown, and throughout New Jersey. Call (732) 264-4400 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 25 Village Ct., Hazlet NJ 07730, as well as offices in East Brunswick.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.