Orlando is one of the many states in America in which victims of car accidents can seek compensation either from the parties responsible for causing the accident, in the form of personal injury compensation, or from their own car insurance service provider. Given all these options, it is easy to see why a vast majority of car accident cases never see the inside of a courtroom and are usually resolved fairly quickly. In fact, with the help of a qualified auto accident lawyer, the matter may not have to be taken to court at all. And even at times when car accident cases are taken to trial, they are usually resolved by settlement before the trial is brought to a close.
However, not all car compensation claims can always be settled outside the courtroom. Sometimes the two parties simply cannot agree on specific issues and need a court to decide and make a judgment on their behalf through trial. Some of the most commonly disagreed issues include:
- Who bears liability? This is the person who was directly responsible for causing the accident
- the extent of the injury and damages
- the total compensation amount
A car accident trial is normally carried out like a regular trial and the final decision on the matter is made by a jury and not by a judge. The trial process can be broken down into parts as outlined below.
- Jury selection
Selection of the jury is the first step in a car accident trial. A normal trial jury for such cases is usually made up of 12 people who are carefully chosen by both the plaintiff and the accused. The lawyers of the two parties will have sessions with potential jury members during which they will question them, evaluate their suitability and then come up with a final list.
- Opening statements
Once the jury has been selected, the trial begins with opening statements from both sides. Since the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff’s team, they are the ones who go first and are then followed by the defense team. There are no arguments at this stage, simply a statement of the facts as each team believes them to be.
- Presentation of evidence
The next step is the presentation of evidence by both teams. Again the plaintiff’s team goes first because they are the ones with the burden of proof. It is at this stage that both sides present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses before the jury.
- Closing arguments
Each team is then given about 20 minutes to present their closing arguments, summarizing their case and justifying them to the jury in a final appeal.
- Jury deliberation and ruling
The jury then secludes itself in order to deliberate the facts of the case as presented to them and reach a conclusion. The jury has to come up with a unanimous verdict before the deliberations come to an end and so this part of the process can take anywhere from a few minutes to several days. Once they have reached a unanimous verdict, it is then read to the two parties and then implemented.