When a family files a wrongful death action, they hope to get the compensation they are entitled to through a settlement. Although these types of cases end with this kind of result, other cases may be taken to trial. It is under these circumstances where the help of an experienced attorney is most valuable.
If you expect your case to be taken to trial, schedule a consultation today. A lawyer familiar with Charleston wrongful death trials could share some insight as to what to expect and what you should do in preparation.
What is the Role of a Judge and Jury During a Wrongful Death Trial
The judge is always the finder of law. What this means is that when it comes to an evidentiary ruling or procedural matter, the judge may call laws and strikes on what evidence comes in and stays out, and the procedure of the trial.
On the other hand, the jury acts as the finder of fact. This means that the jury will ultimately decide the facts of the case and determine liability. In some cases, the jury will decide that the plaintiff has to share some portion of fault, ultimately limiting their ability to obtain the compensation owed to them.
Difference Between a Bench Trial and a Jury Trial
In a bench trial, the judge acts as both the finder of the law and the finder of facts. On the other hand, in a jury trial, a judge would solely act as the find of the law whereas the jury would act as the finder of fact. The downside of having a bench trial is that you would be trying to convince one person to decide a case, that person being the judge. The problem with this is that judges tend to rule based on experience, so they could be bias in favor or against a plaintiff’s case. However, in a jury trial, numerous people need to be convinced, making it easier for the facts of the case to be absorbed as opposed to just one person.
What Role do Expert Witnesses Play in Wrongful Death?
In any case involving liability, expert witnesses can help prove or help the jury understand the more technical aspects of a case. For example, in a wrongful death case involving a truck accident, an accident reconstructionist could prove how the actions of the truck driver led to the accident. Coupled with a reconstructionist, a trucking expert can help prove what rules and regulations, federal and state, were violated by the truck driver. Medical professionals can also chime in on how the accident resulted from the accident and how they led to the untimely death of the victim.
Importance of Working with an Experienced Attorney
When entering into a trial, it is vital that plaintiffs retain the services of an attorney who has experience handling wrongful death cases in a trial setting. A lawyer will know how to examine a witness with direct examination and cross-examine, make motions, effectively open arguments, and how to effectively make a closing argument.
Juries do not have years to decide a case, they only have a small number of days to make a final decision. As a result, plaintiffs need to work with someone who can present the facts of a case in a manner which can be easily absorbed by the jury and allows them to make a decision in the limited period of time they have.