8 August 2016
One of the things our personal injury clients ask us most often is whether they will have to go to court. In the popular imagination, court is a scary place where judges yell, lawyers ask intimidating questions, and even jurors can’t be trusted. It’s true that court for a personal injury trial is no laughing matter; you’ll be required to be honest, to respect the judge and other party, and to answer anything you’re asked, unless you’re explicitly told not to. But the truth is that most personal injury cases resolve long before they make it to trial. Even after filing a lawsuit, you might never see the inside of a courtroom.
Most personal injury cases settle well before they may it to court. The reason for this is simple: if you can provide compelling evidence of your injury, the other party has a vested interest in minimizing expenses by quickly settling the case and avoiding the uncertainties of trial. After all, the longer the case wears on, the higher the attorney’s fees will be, and the more necessary costly expenses like expert witness fees may become. Your case has a better chance of settling if:
Occasionally, personal injury cases settle after trial—strange though this may seem. The reason for this is simple: if the other side has the ability to appeal, they might offer you an immediate settlement in return for not dragging out the case.
Likewise, some cases settle right before trial. In fact, you could be heading into the court room when the settlement offer comes in. A settlement is never off the table, so it’s vitally important that you follow your attorney’s advice for maximizing the value of any potential settlement you might be offered.
If you do have to go to court, there are two kinds of appearances you can expect: pre and post-trial hearings, and trial. Hearings are designed to litigate legal issues, such as whether a specific piece of evidence is admissible. In most pre-trial hearings, you won’t be required to testify, and if you are, the testimony will be rather short.
Trials can last several days, and involve many witnesses, lots of evidence, and some arguments about the law.
If you do have to go to court, here’s what you need to know: