Car Accident Trials in Denton
It is advisable to consult with a local lawyer before entering litigation for any civil case. Our attorneys can help you understand what to expect from the car accident trial process in Denton, so you have the advantage during your case.
How Are Jurors Selected for a Denton Car Accident Trial?
The injured party’s lawyer goes first to ask questions to potential jurors. During that process, the claimant’s lawyer and the defense lawyer are trying to identify jurors who they want to keep on and who should be removed from the juror’s box. An experienced and seasoned lawyer would take this as an opportunity to interact with jurors and get to know them.
After the claimant’s lawyer asks their questions, the defense attorney follows up with any additional questions they may have for potential jurors. The defense attorney is at an advantage in this process, because they’ve already heard all the questions asked by the opposing party and the jury’s answers thereto. This makes it especially easy for the defense attorney to identify which jurors they want on and which they want taken off.
Challenges for Cause
Once both sides have asked their questions, the judge will call both lawyers up for a meeting and discuss whether either side has any “challenges for cause.” Either lawyer may make a challenge for cause if they witnessed an expressed bias by any potential jurors that might be detrimental to the claim.
For example, if a potential juror makes a statement that they believe compensation for pain and suffering is unwarranted in all circumstances regardless of nuance, they may not be able to serve as a juror in a Denton car accident trial. In other words, if either lawyer can show a substantial bias or prejudice, a potential jury member may not be selected for trial.
After the judge makes her rulings, the parties then are able to strike a set number jurors preemptively for any reason they want except for striking a juror because of membership in a protected class such as based on race or religious affiliation. Then the judge compares the strikes of all parties and seats the jurors who were not struck in the order they were seated.
The claimant gets to give their opening statement first, and the defendant may subsequently answer with their opening statement if they so choose. While the defense does not have to make an opening statement, most of the time they will because it sets the stage for what the jurors are going to hear throughout the rest of the auto collision trial. Opening statements give attorneys an opportunity to provide a roadmap for jurors so they can understand in advance why something they’re going to hear is important or why it is not important.
What Are the Advantages of Going First in a Local Auto Accident Trial?
There is a psychological principle known as “primacy” which means people are more inclined to believe the first thing they hear. When people begin to make up their minds, it’s very hard for them to stop that process and change their outlook altogether. For this reason, it is advantageous for an injured person to present their opening statement first.
After both sides have had the chance to give opening statements, the claimant may present their evidence first since they have burden of proof. They may call witnesses, introduce documents, introduce physical evidence, etc. The defense has an opportunity to cross examine the claimant’s witnesses, but they do not have to.
Once the claimant has presented their evidence, they rest their case. It is at this time that the defense can bring a motion to highlight a lack of evidence in any one or more of the required elements of the car crash trial. Just because a defendant makes such a motion, however, does not mean it is valid. In fact, these motions are made in almost every case and are rarely valid.
If the claimant has indeed provided sufficient evidence of every element of their claim, the judge will dismiss the defense’s motion, and the defendant may put on their case. They will have the opportunity to call witnesses and recall any of the points made by the claimant’s witnesses. Most of the time, for efficiency’s sake, they will simply cross examine witnesses during the claimant’s case.
Once both sides have had the chance to present evidence, the defendant will rest their case. Anything that the defendant brought up or attacked, the claimant now has an opportunity to bring in new evidence that was not previously disclosed.
Writing the Jury Charge
Both sides must also write a jury charge and present it to the presiding judge, who has the opportunity to rate it before presenting it to jurors. A standard jury charge will have the most common questions asked of jurors in Denton auto accident trials, and since they tend to get used over and over again, the process does not take long.
In most cases, the judge and the attorneys will work together on the jury charge after the jury has been dismissed on any given day of trial. This helps them filter out any differences or discrepancies before handing the charges to a jury.
Once the charges have been drafted, all parties have an opportunity to object to the charges and offer additional questions. After the judge is satisfied with charge, they will call all jurors back in and read the charges to the jurors. This allows jurors to hear the charges before deliberating.
Before the jury is released to deliberate the evidence and reach a verdict for a local car accident trial, the claimant’s lawyer will have an opportunity to make a final argument. This is an opportunity to highlight important pieces of evidence and explain why other evidence might not be important. This helps jurors discern between key pieces of evidence and testimony and can make their decision-making process much more straightforward.
Jurors argue amongst themselves, eventually vote, and come up with an answer for every question that’s asked in the jury charge. If the jury comes back with a verdict in favor of the claimant, the defense has an opportunity to ask the judge to render a verdict notwithstanding, which is essentially asking the judge to disregard what the jury found, usually due to some flaw in the evidence. The judge in a Denton car accident trial will ultimately make the decision to either uphold the jury verdict or dismiss it.