McKinney Car Accident Trial Process
While a person seeking compensation for car accident injuries has certain rights, they may not have the necessary experience to pursue these avenues effectively. You could learn more about the McKinney car accident trial process by reaching out to a meticulous attorney to advocate for your rights.
Day One of the Trial: The Voir Dire
The first day of the car accident trial process in McKinney is referred to as voir dire. In the voir dire, the attorneys have an opportunity to talk to and question potential jurors one-by-one to discharge jurors they feel may not be able to be unbiased when determining the facts of the case.
Voir dire is one of the most important parts of the trial, since it is the lawyers only chance to size up a juror to determine if they have the capacity and will to fairly follow the law in a specific case. It might not matter what the law is if a juror will not follow it without prejudice or bias.
At the end of the voir dire process, both plaintiff and defendant will make challenges for cause against jurors who have shown significant and persistent bias against applying the law. Attorneys could also strike certain jurors from the list for any nondiscriminatory reason they wish. The first 12 people in district court, or six people in county court, who are not struck could then be seated and comprise the jury. The jurors are then sworn in and the case will begin.
Opening statements are widely thought of as ‘a roadmap’ to what the jury is going to hear during the trial process for car accidents in McKinney. While the hardest thing for lawyers to do in a case could be a voir dire, the second hardest may be a good opening statement. This statement addresses the evidence that will be brought up in the case in a way that helps show the jury why this proof is or is not important. Both sides will do an opening statement.
The statement is not meant to be an argument and was designed to be an opportunity to explain to the jury what evidence they should expect to hear. The plaintiff will then begin the case in chief.
What Must the Plaintiff Prove?
The plaintiff gets to choose what to put on their case, and they must ensure they have evidence for every required element of the case. Plaintiffs must demonstrate:
- The defendant had a duty of care to the victim – for instance, to drive safely
- The defendant was negligent, and their negligence caused the crash
- The crash was a cause of each element of damages to the plaintiff
An element of damages is simply a type of damages. This could include lost earnings capacity, reasonable and necessary medical expenses, pain and suffering, or physical impairment. The plaintiff could do so through testimony and through exhibits. Exhibits are marked and offered into evidence.
The Defense’s Evidence
When the plaintiff rests their case, the defense typically files a motion stating that the plaintiff failed to make their case as a matter of law since they did not prove whatever element that they were required to prove to win their case. Such motions are filed, and routinely, they may be denied.
The defense could either present their evidence at that time or simply rest if they already cross-examined the witnesses and experts. After the defense has presented their evidence, there is an opportunity for the plaintiff’s rebuttal of the evidence. If the plaintiff wishes to call an additional witness to rebut evidence or testimony of the defense, then they have that opportunity. The defense then has an opportunity to call anyone and rebut as the plaintiff did.
When all the evidence is before the jury, the jury is read a document called the Court’s Charge. The jury then has the task of deciding the merits of the case dependent upon what they heard and saw during the trial. This is an actual document that goes with the jurors to deliberate in the jury room.
While both sides have the opportunity to affect the Charge, it is the judge’s responsibility to make a decision on what the Charge is going to look like. The Charge is read to the jury and then the parties have closing arguments. The plaintiff gets to go first in the closing arguments.
Who Delivers Closing Statements?
Typically, the judge will give the parties a time limit to argue the case and some portion that time will be reserved by the plaintiff for what is referred to as the second closing. The plaintiff will open the closing arguments, and there is a rule that says that they must fully open, and not reserve all of their time until later. They must talk about all elements of liability and all elements of damages that they asked for in their original opening.
The defendant could then argue their case, and finally, the plaintiff gets to close. At the close of evidence, the jury leaves to deliberate. When the jury comes to a conclusion, the judge will read their verdict and the case is over. Whoever loses the case has an opportunity to poll the jury by asking each juror if the verdict was their verdict or not, and that is duly recorded for potential appeal purposes.
The judge will fashion a judgment from the verdict, and the party that won the case drafts the Judgment based on what the jury’s findings were.
Let a Car Accident Attorney Help You
A seasoned personal injury attorney who is familiar with the McKinney car accident trial process could help a person pursue their injury claim. If you are considering going to court following a vehicle crash, call a lawyer today. Legal counsel could explain your rights and champion your case.