This is the next post in our series on the handling of truck accident cases in Rochester, Owatonna, and elsewhere in Minnesota. Our last article discussed the calculation of damages after a commercial trucking accident. It is important to understand that a victim will be entitled to compensation for future medical bills and economic losses in addition to bills already incurred and losses already sustained. It is important that you retain a personal injury attorney experienced in handling such matters so that your damages are properly calculated. In this article we will discuss what to expect from the trial process. If you or a loved one have been injured through no fault of your own, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer. We also serve Austin-Albert Lea, other areas of the state, and portions of Iowa and Wisconsin.
Trial will begin with the selection of a jury. This process begins with a pool of potential jurors who are chosen from the community. The attorneys for each side will engage in questioning of the potential jurors. The judge may also ask his or her own questions. If a potential juror’s answers show that they are incapable of being impartial, the judge may remove them from the pool “for cause.” The lawyers for each side also will be given a limited number of challenges, which they may use to remove jurors for other reasons. A potential juror may not be challenged for reasons involving ethnicity, gender, or religion. Once the jurors are selected the jury will be empaneled.
Each side will make opening statements after the jury has been selected. This is not a time for argument or to challenge facts one believes the other side will present. Instead, opening statements are a time to spell out the type of evidence your side will be presenting to the jury and to explain the relief you will be requesting at the end of the case. Counsel can object to any attempts by the opponent to use this portion of the case to argue why the other side is “wrong.”
The plaintiff will present his or her case first. Testimony likely will include the victim explaining how the accident occurred, various experts testifying in relation to liability and damages, and statements from law enforcement officials who responded to the scene. It will be important to establish how the truck driver was at fault, whether his or her employer was negligent in hiring and supervision of the employee, and other crucial facts. The defense will then present a case. The plaintiff will conclude by presenting “rebuttal” evidence. Rebuttal is not a time to introduce new facts; this portion of the case may be used only to offer evidence that directly responds to claims made by the defense.
The case will conclude with closing arguments from each side’s respective attorney. This is when lawyers may argue for their cases and request a specific verdict. The jurors will then deliberate and reach a decision on all issues involved. Once they deliver their verdict the case will be over.
It cannot be stressed enough that trial is a complicated process. The rules of evidence and procedure will be enforced and a failure to follow these rules will result in evidence possibly not being admitted. Hiring an experienced trucking accident attorney helps to ensure that your case is handled correctly.* Our Rochester lawyers have recovered more than $100 million on behalf of injury victims and we are experienced in handling such matters. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.
We also serve SE Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”