Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

You can hold the responsible party accountable through a personal injury lawsuit if you were injured in an accident. For your case to succeed, you will need to prove the other party was negligent, and that their negligence caused your injuries. 

Proving negligence and calculating economic and non-economic damages can sometimes require a jury trial. In most cases, however, the issues are resolved through a settlement. Will your case be one of the 5% of personal injury cases that go to trial? That depends on the different factors we will describe here. 

How Does a Personal Injury Case Start? 

A personal injury case starts on the day it is filed in court. However, the case realistically starts on the date of the incident since that is when you will need to start collecting evidence and building your claim. 

Immediately after an accident is the best time to contact police, take photos and video of the accident scene, and identify witnesses to the accident. You should also get medical treatment after an accident as soon as possible so that your injuries are documented. 

An experienced Buffalo personal injury lawyer will also work to document any lost income, property repair costs, and other proof of the damages you suffered due to the other person’s negligence. Your lawyer will then work to build your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and discuss case strategy when you need to file a lawsuit. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations in New York for a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

The statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit in New York is three years from the date of the incident. However, generally speaking, the sooner you get going with your claim, the better. Investigating and gathering evidence takes time, especially if expert help is required. 

There are also exceptions to the statute of limitations for certain kinds of cases. For example, cases involving government entities can have much shorter time limits.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you file at the right time and meet New York’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. 

The Discovery Process in a Personal Injury Case 

Once your case is filed in court, discovery begins. What is “discovery” in a New York personal injury case? Discovery is the exchange of information between both sides of a court case. 

As the plaintiff, you will share certain information and evidence describing your injuries, damages, and other facts supporting your claim. The defendant will also share information, names of witnesses, and other facts that might support their argument.  

Discovery materials can include any of the following: 

  • Medical records and diagnostic tests
  • Medical bills showing your treatment and expenses 
  • Photos and video footage of the incident and your injuries
  • Pay stubs, invoices, or other documentation proving that you missed work or missed out on work opportunities due to the incident
  • Documentation showing your transportation costs and other out-of-pocket costs related to the incident. 

Your lawyer will review all evidence available and use the evidence to advance your case. Then, your legal team will share evidence with the defendant to show what they plan to introduce at trial. In many cases, providing this evidence during the discovery stage will show the defendant how strong your claim is and encourage a fair settlement. 

Handling Depositions in a Personal Injury Case 

Discovery in a personal injury case often involves depositions. In a deposition, you give sworn testimony and will answer questions from your lawyer and the defense lawyer. The defendant’s lawyer will try to trap you into making mistakes and misstatements to discredit you and your case. 

A skilled personal injury lawyer will help you avoid these traps by preparing you carefully for your deposition. Your lawyer will also depose the defendant and any other key witnesses to the case. Through depositions, lawyers on both sides can get a realistic idea of how trial testimony will go and which side has the greater advantage. This, too, can lead to settlement. 

Settlement Negotiations in a Personal Injury Case 

Some personal injury cases do go to a jury trial. However, the vast majority of personal injury cases are resolved through settlement instead. What does a settlement look like in a personal injury case? 

Usually, the settlement is a dollar figure that both sides can agree to and avoids the unpredictability involved with a trial. 

For you, the benefits of a settlement include guaranteed payment and a sense of closure. Having a settlement payment can help you move forward, get your bills paid, and avoid the extra stress and expenses that come with a trial. 

For defendants and insurance companies, settling the case lets them put a cap on their financial liability. Agreeing to pay some amount is often a safer bet than leaving the number up to a jury. Settling also keeps matters confidential, while taking a case to trial turns the facts of a case into public records. 

How Does a Personal Injury Trial Work? 

A personal injury trial involves different segments, such as: 

  • Opening statements. Your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will explain their theories of the case, the evidence they plan to show the jury, and why their case will be successful. 
  • Witness testimony. Each side to a case gets to call witnesses to support their case. You will be a witness in your case, along with any eyewitnesses and first responders to the incident. Your lawyer might also have expert witnesses lined up to testify on your behalf. Evidence will also be presented and supported by witness testimony during this stage. 
  • Closing arguments. At this stage, lawyers will go over the evidence and the arguments they want the jury to consider. A skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to weave the facts and evidence with their story to show a jury why they should find in favor of you. 

If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will also spend a great deal of time preparing in advance to make sure the trial goes smoothly. 

Contact The Buffalo Personal Injury Lawyers At O’Brien & Ford PC For Help Today

Whether your personal injury case goes to trial depends on the unique facts of your situation and other factors. Realistically, most cases settle before trial or before a lawsuit even gets filed. Other cases can require a jury trial because of the facts involved. 

To learn more about your next steps and legal options, contact our experienced Buffalo personal injury lawyers to schedule a free consultation. 

For more information, please contact the Buffalo personal injury lawyers at O’Brien & Ford PC to schedule a free consultation with an accident lawyer. We have a convenient office location in Buffalo, NY.

We proudly serve all throughout Erie County and the state of New York.

O’Brien & Ford Buffalo Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers
4549 Main St, Suite 201
Buffalo, New York, 14226
(716) 222-2222