This is the next post in our series on the handling of Austin, Texas trucking accident cases. Our last post explained the role of experts in injury cases stemming from truck accidents. It is important to understand that experts are often necessary in such matters due to several complex issues which may arise. In this post, we will address another important issue – what to expect at trial. It cannot be stressed enough that such matters differ from passenger car accidents and that you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately if you have been injured in a trucking accident.
Trial in a trucking accident case will be heard by the Travis County Court system. The case will begin with jury selection. This consists of selecting a group of jurors out of a pool comprised of local residents. The lawyers for each side will be able to ask questions of the potential jurors. This is a process known as voir dire. The Judge will also ask questions of the potential jurors. Those who show a clear bias, who clearly will have a problem with being impartial, or who should not serve on the jury for other reasons will be removed by the Court “for cause.” The attorneys for each side will also have a certain number of challenges which they may use to remove candidates from the jury pool.
The attorneys for each side will make opening statements once the jury has been selected. This is a time at which counsel will inform the jury of what the case is about, what evidence they can expect to be presented, and what relief they believe the jury should provide at the end of the case. If there are multiple defendants in the case (such as if the truck driver and owner have one counsel but the company who hired the truck have another) then counsel for each defendant will be able to make an opening statement. Opening statements are a time to state what evidence it is the jury will hear. It is not a time for argument. If counsel begins to argue why the other side is wrong, the other side may object.
The Plaintiff will proceed with their case first. The victim will call witnesses, including their experts. Testimony will relate to the facts of the accident, the amount of harm the Plaintiff has suffered, and why each individual defendant should be held liable. The defendants will then have the opportunity to present their cases and the Plaintiff will have a time for “rebuttal” of those cases. Once this process is complete then the matter will be given to the jury.
It is the role of the jury to decide whether the defendants are liable, the amount of comparative fault (if any) that will be assigned to the Plaintiff, and the amount each defendant is to pay. It is crucial that you hire a lawyer who is able to present the case to the jury in a way which is concise, understandable, and easy to follow. Dan Christensen is an Austin trucking accident attorney and former military officer. He has tried many jury trials and is able to assist you in such situations. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also service Travis County cities which include Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, the Williamson County cities of Georgetown, Cedar Park, and Leander, as well as other areas of Texas.