How Do Car Accident Court Proceedings Go?
Not every car accident case will end up being decided in court, but it’s still important to understand how these cases work in case you find yourself considering or involved in one.
If you have been the victim of a car accident caused by someone else, there are a number of pros and cons to consider before deciding to enter a courtroom. This article will discuss many of the essential elements you should know about how car accident proceedings work in New York.
Who Decides Your Case
In the state of New York, car accident cases are typically decided before a jury, generally composed of twelve members.
The process during which jurors are questioned and subsequently selected is formally known as voir dire.
Also, keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to go to court to receive a fair and equitable amount of compensation; injury victims in New York can also use arbitration or mediation to mutually agree on a settlement.
The first part of a car accident trial sees both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s legal team deliver an opening statement, which is intended to allow each side to quickly summarize why they think they’re in the right.
Your side, that of the plaintiff, will usually be afforded the opportunity to present first. Opening statements only last about fifteen to twenty minutes, but you will have plenty of chances to later convince the court of your stance.
Plaintiff’s Presentation of Evidence
Although your side carries the case’s burden of proof, you are afforded the opportunity to first present evidence.
Typically, your lawyer will call on witnesses to corroborate your account of the accident, including any details that pertain to how, when, where, and why the accident occurred, as well as who was involved.
A witness can include a bystander or anyone who was either injured or directly involved in the accident. In addition, physicians, or any other “expert” in a given subject matter, can be consulted, allowing the jury to receive validation that your claims have merit.
Defense’s Presentation of Evidence
After you and your lawyer have presented your side, the defense will have the opportunity to present its own evidence. Like the plaintiff, the defense will be expected to call a variety of witnesses and question them on the stand. This procedure gives the defense the chance to refute any claims your side made.
Sometimes, a defendant’s witness will provide a set of facts different from those of another bystander (e.g., you were driving faster than you said you were) or share a different opinion (e.g., a physician saying your injuries aren’t as bad as they seem).
Closing arguments serve as an opportunity for both the plaintiff and defense to make a final argument, improving their chances of a favorable outcome.
Deliberation and Verdict
Following closing arguments, the jury will be given sufficient time to reach a verdict. Usually, deliberation concludes within a few hours, but in some cases, it can take many days, if not longer.
Once a jury has delivered its verdict to the presiding judge, the decision is read to both the plaintiff and defendant and is considered legally binding.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been in a serious car accident and have wondered about your legal options, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit.
For help throughout the process of getting the compensation you deserve, contact a car accident lawyer at Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP. Give us a call at 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) or fill out the form below.