Litigating a St. Louis County Auto Collision Case

Sustaining injuries in a car accident case is a frustrating experience. Not only do you have to dedicate time, money, and energy on completing medical treatment, you also have to make time for preparing your case in trial if a settlement agreement cannot be reached.

If you find yourself in a position where litigating a St. Louis County auto collision case is the only way to obtain compensation, speak with a dedicated attorney today.

What is a Pretrial Conference?

Jury trials in St. Louis County proceed in a very specific way. Before each trial, there is typically what is considered a pretrial conference that can sometimes happen on the day trial begins or it can happen days or weeks in advance. At the pretrial conference, the lawyers and the judge will discuss jury instruction and any other pretrial motions the parties might have.

One type of pretrial motion is what is called a motion in limine, which simply means a motion to exclude evidence during the trial. After the pretrial conference, a jury will be ordered for the day of the trial. The parties will typically arrive at least an hour prior to the time the trial begins so they can have the courtroom set up properly.

Juror Selection Process

Once the jury walks in for the first time, the plaintiff’s attorney will begin questioning the jurors within what is called voir dire or jury selection. Once the plaintiff’s attorney is done asking questions, the defense counsel will get up next to ask any questions of the prospective jury panel.

After both parties have completed their questioning of the prospective jurors, the juror elimination process begins by plaintiff’s counsel first asking for removal of jurors for cause which means that the prospective juror should be excluded for some legal reason, which typically includes bias of some type.

Once the final panel is chosen, the jurors will be walked into the room by the bailiff, and the jury panel will be identified in open court. The remaining jurors will be released for the day.

Beginning of a Trial

Once the jury has been presented, the trial will begin by the judge giving the jurors instructions on how the trial will begin and how the evidence will be submitted. The plaintiff will go first by giving an opening statement. The defense counsel can also give an opening statement or they can reserve until their case-in-chief. Once both parties have given their opening statements, the next part of the case will be the plaintiff’s case-in-chief.

What is the Case-in-Chief?

The case-in-chief precedes opening statements. At this stage, the plaintiff would present its witnesses and its evidence. In a standard St. Louis County car accident case, this would take one to two days to complete. After the plaintiff has rested, the defendant will have the opportunity to put on its case-in-chief.

The defendant’s case-in-chief is typically less than that of the plaintiff in that it typically takes approximately a day or less. In some cases, the only witness that will testify is the defendant.

Closing Arguments

After both parties have rested, closing arguments would take place. The plaintiff will have the opportunity to go first in making their argument to the jury. Once the plaintiff has completed their closing arguments, the defense counsel will have a chance to address the jury in their closing argument. Once they have concluded, the plaintiff’s counsel will have one more chance to address the jury in what is called rebuttal.

Rebuttal

Rebuttal is approximately a third of the length of the plaintiff’s closing argument. Between closing and rebuttal, the plaintiff will be given the exact same amount of time as defense counsel’s closing argument. This is to make it fair for both parties.

The closing argument is a very important part of the case in that it can influence the outcome of the trial much more than any other part of the trial. This is why having an experienced St. Louis County lawyer for litigating auto collision cases is truly important.

Schedule a Consultation Today

When obtaining compensation following an auto collision, you may have to undergo a trial process if a settlement could not be reached. During this trial, you should expect to have your claim challenged by the defense in order to have your claim denied. As a result, retaining the services of an experienced attorney is a vital step towards obtaining a positive result.

For help with litigating a St. Louis County auto collision case, be sure to schedule a consultation today.