What Happens When a Car Accident Goes to Trial in New Jersey?
Most car accident cases settle, but some will go to trial when there is a dispute involving an important issue. At The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have seen car accident trials focused on liability and/or the seriousness of the defendant’s injuries. Below, our car accident lawyer highlights what you can expect from your day in court.
Each Side Will Select Jurors
It’s possible that you might choose to have a bench trial, where the judge decides the dispute in favor of one side or the other. But most trials are held before juries, so jury selection is the first order of business.
Car accident cases are civil trials, so six jurors will decide the case. You might select up to eight jurors, with two serving as alternates.
The Plaintiff Presents Evidence First
The plaintiff is the person who filed the lawsuit. He or she will present evidence in the form of witness testimony and/or documents. The evidence presented will depend on the issue in dispute.
If there’s a disagreement about fault, for example, then witnesses will testify about how the accident happened. The plaintiff might also introduce photographs taken at the scene and other evidence. A police officer might also testify.
The Defendant Cross-Examines Witnesses
The defense lawyer gets to ask the witnesses questions. Cross-examination serves several purposes:
- Provide context for the witness’s testimony. For example, a plaintiff’s witness might say she saw the defendant run a red light. On cross-examination, she admits that she was standing far away and didn’t have a good view. This extra context helps to make the testimony less damning.
- Undermine the witness’s testimony. The defendant might get the witness to trip up and appear like they are lying.
- Obtain helpful information. The witness might have information that helps the defendant’s case. For example, she could have overheard the plaintiff say, “I wasn’t watching where I was going!”
The Defendant Presents Their Case
Once the plaintiff finishes, the defendant goes next. They will present witnesses and documentary evidence, also, to prove they weren’t at fault for the collision.
Just as the defendant cross-examined the plaintiff’s witnesses, the plaintiff also gets a chance to cross-examine the defense witnesses.
The Jury Reaches a Verdict
When all evidence is in, the judge charges the jury with the law and has them withdraw to deliberate. The jury will decide factual issues in dispute, such as liability. If the jury finds the defendant liable, they also decide how much the defendant must pay the plaintiff in compensation.
The Case Can Settle at Any Time
Even during a trial, the two sides can reach an agreement. They might even settle after the verdict is announced. A good lawyer always keeps lines of communication open so that a case can be resolved in a favorable manner for his client.
We Can Help
Our car accident lawyer can pull together a strong evidentiary record to present at trial. Please call the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today to schedule a free consultation.