Medical malpractice trials usually last a week. Unlike what you see on TV or the movies, there should be no surprises during trial. Both sides know what the other side will say. The jury's job is to decide between conflicting facts. You are present in the courtroom the entire time.

Before trial the attorneys meet with the judge and agree on matters such as the trial schedule and what evidence will be shown. Trials start with choosing a jury. We start with a jury pool of about two dozen people. The judge and attorneys ask questions. If someone has a bias for either side or a severe scheduling conflict, those potential jurors are dismissed. We need 6 or 7 jurors that will hear the case.

Once the jury is empaneled, we tell them the facts of the case. The defense attorney then gives their version. If there is more than one defendant, then each defendant has a lawyer that gets to tell a version.

After opening statements, the jury hears the facts through our witnesses. This includes you and family members (that can tell how your life changed) and expert doctors (that can explain the medical science, the negligence, the resulting damage and what your future holds). Sometimes we call on an economist to put dollar amounts on future medical treatments and the amount of your lost past and future income. We ask the defendants to testify or play a video of their deposition.

The lawyers for each defendant then call their witnesses. Both sides get to question each witness. Once the evidence has been presented to the jury, we summarize the facts and the evidence that we have shown. We go over the verdict form that they must fill out. The first question on the form asks whether the defendants were negligent and whether that negligence contributed to any harm you suffered. The next questions ask the jury to measure that harm in dollars. The defense gives their summary.

The jury then retires to the deliberation room and discuss how to fill out the form. Once there is a unanimous verdict, the jury returns to the courtroom and the verdict is read. That is not the end of most cases. We are now in the 5th stage, post-verdict.

The information you obtain here is not legal advice. Consult an attorney (preferably TiMedLaw!) regarding your own situation.

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