Car accident trials in Charleston allow for both wrongdoers and victims to present their sides of a story in court for a jury to decide upon. However, there is a certain degree of control that victims of car accidents could exercise over this decision. With the assistance of a competent attorney, victims could rely upon a legal professional who could work toward a favorable outcome in court.
Litigation for Charleston Car Accident Cases
For litigations, attorneys investigate the claims made by victims to determine liability, damages, who is at fault, and any aggravating factors that go into fault.
Attorneys would investigate and calculate the damages, commonly known as losses. Once an attorney has figured all that out, the first step is to try to resolve the case either through the traditional way of doing a settlement demand or by pushing it to a pretrial mediation in certain cases.
If all settlement efforts fail, the case does not settle and litigation occurs. The first step is to file a summons complaint either in federal district court or at South Carolina circuit court. The summons is then served to the wrongdoer, and at the same time, attorneys typically serve interrogatories, which are questions to the other side about topics they wish to inquire upon. Then there are requests for production, which are a list of items or tangible evidence that attorneys ask for like documentation from the other side.
Opening Statements in Court
The plaintiff gives the opening statement in a personal injury case because they have the burden of proof. If someone is the injured party and the person that has been wronged by the defendant in the case, they are a plaintiff or a claimant, depending on which state they are in. They are the ones that initiate the lawsuit by filing the summons complaint on the defendant, telling what allegedly happened to them, that the defendant was the cause of it, and that the defendant causing it resulted in damages to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff has the burden of proof of proving the case, both the liability and the damages. That means proving the defendant did something wrong or either failed to do something they were supposed to do, like maintain their brakes, on their car or ran a stop sign, for example. Once they have alleged that, they also are trying to prove the damages. As the moving party with the burden of proof and proving the case from both a liability and a damages standpoint, the plaintiff is the one that begins with opening statements.
Opening statements provide victims the opportunity to talk to the jurors and set up the case in term of who is at fault and the losses they have experienced.
The Wrongdoer’s Presentation of Evidence
The defense presents their case second. Typically, once the plaintiff rests their case, meaning they are done their opening argument, and presented their evidence, the defense would get their turn. The defense would sometimes recall witnesses that were up when the plaintiff argued their case, although they get the opportunity in real time to cross-examine any witness that the plaintiff puts up.
The defense may also call anyone they believe is relevant to their arguments:
- Other defendants
- Independent medical evaluators
Victims could expect to see a battery of witnesses on the other side to combat and refute their case.
Both parties are going to present a closing statement or a closing argument. Typically, the plaintiff would present theirs first because they are the moving party. Then the defense would have the ability to present their closing argument to try to frame the issues and the evidence in the way they see fit and with the goals of refuting a victim’s claims.
Many times, the plaintiff is given an additional few minutes to do a rebuttal, which is an opportunity to talk about some of the points that the defendants made or argued in their closing statement. After that, the evidence and the facts of the case go to the jury. The jury goes back to the jury room to deliberate to make a decision on whether or not the defendant is at fault, what damages they caused if they did cause damages, and how much money needs to be paid to make the plaintiff whole for the damages that they sustained.
How These Proceedings Influence the Outcome of the Case
Opening and closing arguments are crucial to any case for both sides. The way that the case is argued, the evidence that is going to be presented, and the way that the issues are framed, many times has much to do with their persuasive value and getting the jurors to see value of a case. In many cases, a defendant, for example, is unwilling to take personal responsibility and it is up to attorneys to convince a jury of the wrongdoer’s involvement and responsibility owed to victims.
Speak to an Attorney Who Could Help
Trials for car accidents in Charleston often present the last opportunity for victims to recover compensation from an accident caused by a negligent party. Because of the high stakes associated with these events, victims of car accidents should do everything they are able to ensure a favorable outcome. One step that could lead to a fair court case is choosing to work with an attorney. Call today for a confidential consultation.