Stages of a Massachusetts Personal Injury Trial
Fortunately, most Massachusetts personal injury claims settle with the the relevant insurance company outside of court. However, for many different reasons, there are claims that are not settled. When that happens, it is necessary for your Massachusetts personal injury lawyer to commence litigation against the individual that caused your injuries, and the insurance company that insures him/her. Please be aware that there is inherent uncertainty and risk involved in litigating a personal injury claim. You could receive a favorable verdict, or, you may lose entirely if there is a defense verdict.
With respect to the stages of a personal injury trial in Massachusetts, I found the following, provided by attorney Earl A. Angevine’s website, and I think it does a good job of telling you what you can expect at trial:
Should a trial be necessary, we will, of course, spend considerable time with you and your witnesses preparing for it. Basically, all trials are conducted in the same manner and they involve the following steps:
A) Selecting Jury. In a jury case, the first step is to question prospective jurors to determine whether they can be fair and impartial. The law allows us to excuse three jurors without giving any reason (peremptory challenges). Any juror may be excused for cause, i.e. if the juror cannot be fair and impartial.
B) Opening Statement. After selection of the jury, each attorney has the opportunity of telling the jury what the case is about, and what proof will be presented.
C) Presenting Witnesses. The Plaintiff calls its witnesses first and presents its case by way of witnesses and exhibits. The Defendant is given the right to question the Plaintiff’s witnesses when the Plaintiff has finished asking them questions through a process called cross‑examination. When the Plaintiff has finished presenting its case, the Defendant is given the opportunity to call its witnesses. The Plaintiff has the right of cross‑examination of those witnesses.
D) Instructions. Once all of the testimony has been presented, the Judge will instruct the jury concerning the law of the case.
E) Final Argument. After the Judge has instructed the jury on the law, I will address the jury on your behalf. The Defendant’s attorney is then given the right to argue on behalf of his client, and I am given the opportunity to rebut the Defendant’s argument. The jury then retires to the jury room to deliberate the case. (In some cases the defendant has admitted liability or the judge has ruled as a matter of law that the defendant is liable. In that case, the jury only decides the amount of the verdict.)
F) Appeal. Either party may appeal from the result within 30 days after entry of the judgment.