The Pros and Cons to Taking a Rollover Accident Injury Case in Front of a Jury
A common misconception is that every case will go to trial. The popularity of legal dramas has led many people to assume that the glamour portrayed in dramatic television shows is what happens with every lawsuit that is filed, but this is far from reality. However, if you were the victim of a rollover crash or lost a loved one to a rollover car accident and wish to file a lawsuit to recover damages, there are some things you should know about these types of cases and how court and trial procedures can affect them.
What is a Jury Trial?
If your case makes it all the way to the trial stage, then there are a number of things that will happen. First and foremost, you need to understand the concept of a jury. As you will be the party that is filing suit against another party, you will become the 'plaintiff.' As the plaintiff your attorney will present your case and respective arguments first. The most important part of a jury trial is that you must convince the jurors that the other side should be held responsible for the damages that you incurred based on their liability. You also must show them that you in fact suffered serious physical and emotional injuries that warrant such recovery. While this is a challenging task, it is very doable with experienced legal representation.
To illustrate, in San Diego during January of 2011 there was a wrongful death suit filed against a Ford dealership for failing to repair a faulty tire that subsequently caused a rollover and the jury returned a verdict of $14.4 million dollars. The failure on the part of the dealership to repair the tire along with other factors caused the tire to experience tread separation which led the vehicle to rollover, hitting another car and killing a couple. It was established during the trial that the Ford dealership had failed to take to take that particular tire out of service and because of that it ruptured and caused the vehicle to roll over.
What are the Presumptions and Problems with a Jury Trial?
With a jury trial, as stated before, you will have to convince the jury panel in order to win your case. In addition, jurors come to lawsuits with their own beliefs and opinions just like everybody else. The already existing presumptions of the jurors can be somewhat challenging to overcome, but it can be done if you have a smart and experienced attorney representing your case. However, during the jury selection process your attorney will attempt to weed out any jurors who have an undue amount of bias in one direction or another. A good example of a presumption that a juror might have is that the rollover was really your fault. When you think of a rollover, much of society associates that kind of crash with reckless, dangerous driving that eventually caused the vehicle to flip. It is this type of presumption that must be overcome.
In addition, there are obstacles with a jury trial as well. One of biggest problems that you will encounter is what arguments the other side is going to come up with that you haven't anticipated. Once again, an experienced attorney like those at Grossman Law Offices that is well versed in preparing to counteract any arguments that opposing counsel will make, and ensuring that your case is almost impenetrable against such arguments.
An example of how a jury trial can go wrong if you do not prove every element and make sure that you anticipate every rebuttal or counterargument that the other side will use against you was a case in Lufkin, Texas in February of 2012. The plaintiff became a quadriplegic because of injuries sustained during a rollover. The plaintiff claimed that the vehicle was defective because the roof was not durable enough to withstand the rollover and the glass was defective in the driver's side window. However, the other side prevailed because of the fact that the plaintiff was not wearing her seat belt. This case is representative of the fact that the other side is going to try and make the jury believe that this accident was your fault and not the fault of the manufacturer or whomever is the blameworthy party in your suit.
What is the Trial Process?
If your case ends up going to trial, there is an extensive process that you will go through with your case, all the way up until the day that the verdict is read to the jury. To start off with, there will be some pre-trial procedures that will occur. This will all be done outside the presence of jury and will involve debate between the opposing counsel over what matters should be permitted into the the trial such as evidence and testimony and discussion of certain hot topics. The first portion of the trial process is something called 'voir dire', which is also known as jury selection. This will be the time when each side gets the opportunity to pick and strike certain jurors, and even redeem jurors that the other side has chosen to challenge for cause because of some bias that they may have. The reason for this is that you want to have as many jurors that are sympathetic to your case on the panel and so does the other side so you will battle back and forth using tools called "peremptory strikes" and "challenges for cause." Following this, the plaintiff will open, or go first and be able to present an opening statement to the jury and put on witnesses, such as expert witnesses, who will provide testimony that supports your case. The defense counsel will have the opportunity to cross-examine your witnesses to attempt to show their unreliability or bias. In addition, throughout the entire process there will be pieces of evidence admitted such as diagrams of the scene of the accident and so on and so forth to assist the jury in visualizing what really happened. With the admission of evidence comes evidentiary arguments which will be fought between attorneys. Following the plaintiff's case-in-chief and closing argument, the defendant will then have the opportunity to present their case-in-chief. This little dance will be procedurally identical to the plaintiff's with witnesses and direct/cross-examinations, albeit the arguments will be in direct conflict with the plaintiffs. After the defendant closes, the judge will read the charge to the jury, which will clearly describe the elements that needed to be proved and basically serve as their guidepost on which to discern liability. They will then be released to deliberate in isolation to reach their final verdict, after which this will be read to the courtroom, along with the damages award.
When you have been in a rollover car accident, there are a number of obstacles on your path to full recovery that must be considered. However, with the right representation, these problems are capable of being overcome. During a jury trial you must prove to the jury that you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. You are the innocent party that was injured, and as such you should recover for your losses. It is not fair for you, as the person who has suffered loss to be forced to bear heavy financial and emotional burdens. The rollover accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices are well equipped to handle these types of cases and will diligently pursue your cause of action. To discuss your potential claim, contact us at (855) 326-0000.