Louisiana Personal Injury Litigation: Facts About Jury Trials

February 17, 2021 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents

Louisiana Personal Injury Litigation: Facts About Jury Trials

Here in Louisiana, victims who have been injured in an accident by the wrongful behavior of another person have the right to make an insurance claim and/or file a personal injury lawsuit. The at-fault persons or companies are required to compensate any and all injured victims. Compensation includes money damage awards for expenses like medical bills, lost wages/income, disfigurement, emotional injuries, and pain and suffering. Many personal injury cases settle before going to trial, but sometimes settlement is not possible. To help settle their claims, accident victims must seek legal assistance from trained and experienced personal injury attorneys like those at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. Having proven and courtroom-tested Louisiana personal injury litigators at your side is even more important if the case goes to trial. How a trial operates can be confusing to non-lawyers, and, in real life, trials are not like the ones you see on television or in the movies. Here is some quick information about Louisiana personal injury trials.

In Louisiana, a jury is required for criminal cases. But, with respect to civil cases — like Louisiana personal injury cases — a victim is entitled to a jury trial only if the damages are expected to exceed $50,000. If the damages are lower than $50,000, then the trial fact finding is made by a judge without the assistance of a jury. These are often called “bench trials.” Whether the trial is a bench trial or jury trial, the judge presides over the case ensuring that the proper procedures and laws of evidence are followed.

In every trial, there is conflicting evidence. With a jury trial, the purpose of the jury is to decide which version of the evidence is more credible; that is, which evidence is more “probably true.” The judge exercises this role in a bench trial.

Whether conducted before a bench or jury, a Louisiana personal injury trial proceeds in a particular order. The party who initiates a lawsuit is called a “plaintiff” and those defending are called “defendants.” Briefly, the order of a trial is as follows:

  • Opening statements by the attorneys for the parties — the plaintiff’s attorneys goes first; the purpose of an opening statement is to introduce the litigants, facts and legal issues to the jury (or judge)
  • Plaintiff presents evidence
  • Defendant presents evidence
  • Plaintiff presents limited amounts of additional evidence, if necessary, and then the Defendant presents additional evidence, if necessary — this continues until all evidence has been presented
  • When all the evidence is presented, attorneys for the parties make closing arguments to the jury (or judge) — again, the plaintiff’s attorney goes first
  • If a jury is empaneled, then instructions are given to the jury by the judge
  • The jury (or judge) deliberates and renders a verdict

In terms of evidence, most of the evidence presented during a trial is testimony from witnesses. Mostly, witnesses must testify live before the jury (or judge). But occasionally, witnesses can present evidence via video. Testimony from witnesses is provided through a question and answer format. The attorney presenting the witness asks questions and the witness provides answers. This is called a “direct” examination. Attorneys for the other party are then allowed to “cross examine” the witness to gain further information, to ferret out biases or otherwise attempt to undermine the credibility of the witness or the evidence presented. Other types of evidence include:

  • Documents — like written contracts, blueprints, copies of emails and text messages
  • Photographs and videos
  • Physical evidence — like a blown-out tire, torn clothing and other physical objects
  • Charts, summaries, timelines and diagrams — these are often not technically evidence, but are allowed if they are helpful to the jury (or judge)
  • Demonstrations and simulations — such as showing how use of powder might create an inhalable cloud of dust

Most of the evidence is based on eye-witness observation of events and personal knowledge of documents and physical objects. There is also testimony that is provided by expert witnesses who may run tests to prove various facts that require experience, training, and expertise.

As can be seen, a Louisiana personal injury trial is a complex and complicated endeavor. This is among the many reasons why you need to hire experienced Louisiana personal injury lawyers if you have been the victim of some other person’s wrongful behavior.

Our Attorneys Can Help

For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.