Many personal injury claims end in a settlement before someone even needs to file a lawsuit. In the event that the plaintiff and defendant cannot come to an agreement, a trial may be necessary. The trial procedure in an Atlanta car accident case is not complicated but you would be best served by having a legal advocate guide you through the process. One of our distinguished car accident attorneys could keep you on the right track to recoup your financial losses.
The Summons and Discovery Periods
After we file the complaint and the defendant has been served, the defendant has 30 days to respond. The complaint is also often served with a request for written discovery. This can include written questions, requests for production of documents, and requests for the defendant to make certain admissions. The defendant has 45 days to respond to discovery when they are served with the claim. By rule, the discovery period in local car accident trials is six months from the time of the defendant’s answer. However, discovery periods are often extended by at least three to six months. In a typical case, discovery lasts about one year.
Once the defendant has responded to discovery, they can serve the plaintiff with their own written discovery requests, which the plaintiff will have 30 days to respond to. The next step is often to collect records from non-parties and depositions from the parties themselves.
Following the parties’ depositions, the fact witnesses, law enforcement, and/or treating doctors may be deposed. The subsequent set of depositions often includes those taken from expert witnesses who have been retained to offer their expert opinions about the case.
How Are Trial Dates Determined?
The trial procedure for a car accident case in Atlanta typically begins once discovery is completed, at which time the case will appear on a pretrial calendar. The pretrial calendar will then set a deadline for filing a pretrial order. This is a document that sets forth the witnesses and documents that can be expected to be presented at the trial, as well as the overall claims and defenses at issue.
While most counties appear on a trial calendar, some courts will set a case so that the individuals know they will be tried on a certain day. However, most trials for car accident cases will not be specially set. They will appear on the trial calendar with other cases and will be called into trial when they are released on that list. The time it takes for a case to be calendared and called for trial can vary from county to county and from court to court.
Do Auto Injury Cases Require Jury or Bench Trials?
There is nothing that requires car accident cases to have jury trials; however, many lawyers request jury trials in such cases. Some cases may be better resolved by a jury trial as opposed to a bench trial. Many attorneys believe that the jury trial process provides the most fair and open procedures for presenting the totality of evidence related to liability and damages, and provides the injured individual the best opportunity for maximizing their recovery.
Making Arguments in Court
While both parties have the right to give opening statements at trials in Atlanta, the plaintiff’s team issues their statement first and the defendant follows. These statements preview what the parties expect the evidence at trial to show. After opening statements, we present our case first since we have the burden of proof.
If the defendant presents evidence, then we present our closing statement first and last. In such cases, the defense presents evidence to support their case, and we get to issue an initial closing argument followed by the defense. We are then allowed a final closing statement after the defense presents theirs.
The End of the Trial
Closing arguments can influence the outcome of a case. The closing argument is our last chance to argue to the jury what we believe the evidence shows. Just as importantly, we could place a value on the case for the jury to consider, including whether there will be ongoing or permanent pain or dysfunction for the plaintiff.
Speak with an Attorney About the Trial Procedure in an Atlanta Car Accident Case
Trials are not required to recover compensation after an accident but you should be prepared in case one occurs. The trial procedure in an Atlanta car accident case contains multiple phases and must be handled strategically. One of our lawyers could work with you to ensure a fair trial that argues for your cause. If you are looking for legal advice, call us now.