What happens during a personal injury trial? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Although each jurisdiction has their own procedures and rules, trial formats are very similar in civil courtrooms across the country. There will likely be pretrial motions filed by both attorneys, which the judge will decide. Jury selection will take place, with the plaintiff’s (the victim) attorney and the defendant’s (at-fault party/insurance company) attorney asking each potential juror questions and using their options of accepting or challenging the juror. The judge may also ask potential jurors questions.

Once the jury is seated, each of the attorneys will give an opening statement. An opening statement is basically a summary of the case they will be presenting. The plaintiff’s attorney will present their case first to the court, offering evidence and witness testimony. Then the defendant’s attorney will present their case. When the defense rests, the plaintiff is allowed to offer any rebuttal evidence or witnesses.

After all evidence and witness testimony has been offered, both sides will then present their closing arguments. This is done the same way the cases were. The plaintiff first, then the defense, and the plaintiff offering final remarks in rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument.

The judge will then instruct the jury on the laws that apply to the case. The jury will then go to a jury room and deliberate the case. When they reach their verdict, everyone will be called to court where the verdict will be read aloud.