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Golitko & Daly

Indiana Construction Accident Lawyer Presents:Stages of a Construction Accident Case: Trial

By Matthew Golitko on April 22, 2016

A judge with a gavelThe lawyers of Golitko & Daly, P.C. have years of experience helping people in their time of legal need. Our Indianapolis attorneys have taken numerous lawsuits involving construction accidents to trial, fighting diligently for clients every step of the way.

We've gone over other phases of a case in some detail already. We'd like to take this opportunity to consider the actual trial phase and what the various parts of it are.

Jury Selection for Construction Accident Cases

Jury selection is a common first step for most cases that go to trial. During the jury selection process, the judge and attorneys will question the pool of potential jurors to determine how their views and life experiences may color their response to the facts of a case. Attorneys will try to pick jurors based on finding individuals who may be most sympathetic to their case. Attorneys can dismiss jurors for any reason ("peremptory challenges") or because they feel that a juror will not be objective ("challenges for cause").

This process, of course, does not apply to bench trials, which are cases in which the judge plays the role of the jury.

Attorneys Make Their Opening Statements

When the trial itself begins, the attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant sides will make their opening statements. The plaintiff's side will often go first.

During the opening statement, the attorney will generally outline the case they have to make, stating what they intend to prove that will be supported by the evidence presented and the witness testimony. The defendant's attorney will then make their opening statement, similarly stating a case that rebuts that of the plaintiff.

In cases that involve cross-claims or multiple parties, there may be more than two opening statements.

Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination

This phase of the trial is what most people are familiar with thanks to depictions in film and television. This is known as the case-in-chief.

The plaintiff's side of the case will go first, presenting evidence to the jury and calling witnesses and selected experts to testify under oath, which is known as direct examination. Once the plaintiff's attorney is finished examining their witness, the defendant's attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness, finding any holes in the testimony or casting doubt that may be favorable to the defendant's side of a case. This is followed by the plaintiff's attorney returning to engage in re-direct examination, which attempts to clarify statements and undo any doubts that the defendant's attorney may have raised through cross-examination.

Once the plaintiff's side rests its case, the process is repeated for the defendant's side. The pattern of direct examination, cross-examination, and re-direct examination continues until the attorney for the defendant rests their case.

Attorneys Make Their Closing Arguments

Closing arguments are a way for attorneys of each side to sum up their arguments and make a final appeal to the jury for their case. It's essentially the conclusion to their argument.

Judge Issues Instructions to the Jury

Following closing statements, a judge will provide the members of the jury with a set of instructions before they go to deliberate. This will typically outline the legal concerns to keep in mind while discussing the case and some legal standards to keep in mind as they mull over the facts presented.

The Jury Deliberates

The case rests with the jury during the deliberation process. During this phase of trial, the members of the jury go over all of the evidence and the cases presented, noting judge's instructions while they go over the facts each side has presented. Only the jury members are involved in this process, though they may request court transcripts or certain pieces of evidence during the deliberation process.

The Verdict of the Case

When the jury has finished deliberating (which can be brief or take a long time), the verdict of the case if read. Both the plaintiff's side and the defendant's side assemble for the reading of the verdict.

Sometimes a unanimous verdict cannot be reached, which is known as a hung jury or split decision. When this happens, the judge might declare a mistrial. In such cases, a new jury must be selected and an entirely new trial conducted.

Speak with the Lawyers at Golitko & Daly, P.C.

For more information about work injury lawsuits and the various steps involved, be sure to contact our team of construction accident and injury attorneys today. The legal team at Golitko & Daly, P.C. will fight diligently for you every step of the way.

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