Accidents happen, even in a vibrant city like Chicago, where life unfolds amidst the hustle and bustle of urban landscapes and cultural treasures. You may wonder what action is ahead if you are involved in a personal injury accident in Windy City. Will you need to take your claim to court? And if so, what can you expect from the legal process? Getting the opposing parties to admit liability and pay for the damages caused during an accident is an uphill task. Sometimes, they deny liability completely, forcing your attorneys to take matters to court.
This blog post will delve into the intricacies of taking a personal injury accident claim to court in Chicago. Understanding the journey that unfolds within the city’s courtrooms will empower you with valuable insights, ensuring you’re prepared and informed should your case progress to litigation. If you’ve been injured and seeking legal representation, hire the best personal injury law firm near you to navigate the legal process.
Voir Dire: Jury Selection
Under a judge’s instructions, juries often preside over personal injury trials, and the constituent members are selected by the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s attorneys. The first thing that happens in court is choosing the 9 or 13 team members to review and determine your case. The jurors are selected on certain principles, the main one being impartiality.
Potential jurors must answer specific or general questions regarding the case to assess their suitability in the trial. The questions include their life experiences and their ideological standing. The two teams will then uphold some jurors and exclude others, citing interest in the case or unwillingness to hold impartiality.
In this second stage, the plaintiff and defense attorneys will present their standing regarding the case and give a roadmap to the witnesses and evidence (whatever the type of evidence it may be) they will use in court. Your attorney will go first because you are the complainant. They will explain the facts of the case and reiterate the defendants’ alleged liability.
Once done, the defense counsel will take their turn explaining their interpretation of the events that led to the plaintiff’s injuries. They walk the jury through their intent to thwart the plaintiff’s defense and evidence. The number of presentations and time taken depends on the number of attorneys.
Case-in-chief: Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination
This is the most crucial part of the trial, and your attorney has only this moment to make or break your case. It is time for them to support their allegations that the defendant’s action or inaction caused your injuries through witnesses and physical evidence. After this stage, no new evidence will be admissible in court.
Physical evidence includes documents, medical reports, photographs, and other exhibits from the accident scene. Your witnesses will testify under oath as to the events of that day and get questioned by the defendant’s attorney to poke holes into your case. The defendants will also produce their witnesses who will testify, and your legal counsel also gets an opportunity to cross-examine them. Finally, your lawyer gets a rebuttal opportunity that is the last chance to counter the defendant’s arguments.
This is the opposite of an opening statement. A closing statement allows both parties to summarize their arguments and cast them favorably before the jurors. The legal counsels recap the evidence presented, which was properly admitted in the previous step.
A closing statement is a final chance for plaintiffs and defendants to address the jurors before they retreat for deliberations. The plaintiff makes a final move demonstrating why the evidence produced proves beyond any reasonable doubt the defendant’s liability. The defendants also demonstrate why their counter-argument and evidence absolve their client of blame.
After the closing arguments, the judge will brief the jury on how to address the matter. The brief comes in the form of a set of legal standards and applicable laws and statutes to aid in determining liability. The rules are determined by the type of personal injury claim in question.
The jury retreats privately to contemplate the matter, also known as deliberation. The jury will determine whether the defendant is responsible for causing your injuries. They will also decide the appropriate compensation for the injuries suffered.
Five of the six jurors, for instance, must agree for there to be a verdict. They will pass the judgment to a court clerk or a judge who will read it out in an open court. Failure to agree leads to a hung decision which the judge declares a mistrial, and the trial must begin again.
You should expect six stages if your personal accident injury claim goes to court. These include jury selection, opening statements, cross-examination, closing arguments, jury deliberation, and delivery of the verdicts. Ensure you have a personal injury lawyer because most of these processes require their participation and expert input.