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What Happens in a Personal Injury Trial?

November 23, 2023

Personal injury cases most often end in settlements, or agreements between an insurance carrier and claimant to resolve the legal dispute for a specified sum of money. However, reaching a settlement is not always possible. Some claims need to go through the process of a personal injury trial. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney in Denver from the beginning of your case can help you prepare for either possibility.

Denver Personal Injury Attorney

Why Do Cases Have to Go to Trial?

Initially, a personal injury claim will be investigated by an insurance company and a representative called the claims adjuster. After investigating, the adjuster will recommend to the insurer a) whether or not to accept the claim and b) how much the claim is worth if accepted. If the claim is approved, an insurance settlement offer will be made to the victim or victim’s attorney. The victim then has the chance to negotiate for a higher amount.

However, if an insurance company decides to reject the claim, the next step for the victim may be filing a personal injury lawsuit. Suing the defendant is an option after an insurance claim has been denied. Settlement negotiations could also lead to a personal injury trial if the insurance company refuses to offer what the claimant believes is a reasonable amount – resulting in an impasse and the need for litigation.

Personal injury trials can be complex and demanding on both parties. There are no guarantees regarding the outcome of a court trial. Litigation could take many months to a year or longer from start to finish. If a personal injury case involves particularly serious injuries or a wrongful death, however, it may be in the best interest of the claimant to proceed to trial. The plaintiff’s attorney can provide advice and guidance regarding settling vs. litigating.

Parts of a Personal Injury Trial

A personal injury trial takes place within the civil justice system. This system has a lower evidentiary burden of proof than the criminal justice system; the plaintiff must prove his or her claim based on a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) instead of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Both sides of the case will have the opportunity to present arguments, evidence and witnesses to support their claims.

The general steps of a personal injury trial include:

  • Filing the lawsuit
  • Discovery phase to gather evidence
  • Pre-trial motions to address specific issues
  • Jury selection
  • Opening statements made by both parties
  • Presentation of evidence and witnesses
  • Cross-examination of witnesses
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury instructions
  • Jury deliberation
  • Verdict
  • Post-trial motions
  • Appeal, if applicable

Note that a settlement could still be reached at any time up to the first day of the trial. Negotiations and attempts to settle the case out of court commonly continue until the trial begins. It is important to hire an attorney to represent you if you believe your personal injury case might go to trial. The right attorney can guide you through each phase of the legal process while protecting your best interests. A lawyer will resolve a court trial as efficiently and effectively as possible.

For more information about personal injury trials in Colorado, request a free case consultation with an attorney at The Fang Law Firm.