Most cases never make it to trial. In fact, depending on the type of case, over ninety percent of all actions commenced never get as far as trial.
Experienced medical malpractice attorneys understand this fact but still have taken many cases to trial and are nonetheless always prepared to do such. Since some cases do proceed to trial, it is important for all injured plaintiffs to understand what to expect if and when trial proceedings commence.
As you know, the road to trial is quite long. But when the plaintiff is ready for trial and done everything the court requires, a note of issue is filed with the court asking for the case to be put on the court’s trial calendar. Depending on the court, there will still be a long period of time that passes before the first day of trial. Even though trial hasn’t started, the note of issue is really the first major step in the trial process.
Both parties would have also submitted briefs to the court that further detail their contentions and ideally the points of contention would be narrowed down by this time. Also, as you know, a jury will have to be picked if the case requires a jury and if the parties have not waived a jury trial. If waived, the trial will be decided by the judge. This is known as a bench trial. That aside, the jury selection process is called, voir dire, and involves talking to the jury pool to see which candidates are not fit to serve.
The jury selection process is complex, but nuanced at the same time. Experienced medical malpractice trial attorneys will make many subtle yet critical decisions at this time.
Once the trial date comes, the parties will make their cases in front of the judge and jury. The plaintiff will always have the right to present their case first. Opening arguments are heard, and the defense will have the opportunity to present an opening. Next, the plaintiff will call witnesses and introduce various forms of evidence. The defendant is given the opportunity to cross examine all witnesses and rebut all evidence.
Once the plaintiff has finished, the defendant has the opportunity to present its defense and to call their own witnesses. The plaintiff may cross examine defense witnesses as well.
Throughout this process various trial motions may be introduced, with each party trying to halt or suspend the case for appeals on a judge’s bench decisions. Eventually, however, each party will give their closing arguments to the jury and the jury will then be charged with determining their verdict.
Once the jury has decided, they will announce the verdict to the court. At this point many other motions may be made and the case could even end up going to appeal.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.