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How should I dress for trial?

 

You should dress to be comfortable, as trial will last the whole day, likely for several days.  Usually, this means dressing semi-formally in order to make a favorable impression on the judge, jury, and the insurance adjuster representing the defendant, if present.

What time do I need to show up to the courthouse?

 

You should plan to show up to the courthouse a few minutes before it opens.  There are several reasons for this. 

 

First, courthouse parking can be difficult to understand.  Even when you do find a parking spot, you may be required to walk a considerable distance to the courthouse.  This takes time. 

 

Second, courthouses have strict security protocols.  Before entering the courthouse, you’ll need to go through a metal detector.  This may require you taking off you belt and shoes. 

 

Third, courthouses can be difficult to navigate.  You may have trouble locating your courtroom, which could take time. 

 

The underlying principle is you don’t want to be late and leave the judge and jury waiting on you.    Show up a few minutes early and leave yourself enough time to handle unexpected delays.

Can I talk to the jury outside of the courtroom?

 

At no time are you allowed to communicate with a juror, in any way, during trial including outside the courtroom. 

 

This can be tough because the courthouse is not a large building.  And, jurors often take their lunch breaks at the same nearby restaurants you may attend.

 

It’s inevitable that your path will cross with a juror’s at some point during trial.  You should do everything you can to avoid contact with a juror, because any improper contact can be grounds for a mistrial.

How should I address the judge?

 

Always refer to the judge as “your honor.”  Any time you are speaking to the judge or the judge is speaking to you, never remain seated.  Always stand up and show respect. 

 

The judge has wide discretion to decide a myriad of issues in your case, so every effort should be made to afford the judge appropriate respect.

How long is the average civil jury trial?

 

Civil jury trials for personally injury cases typically last between two and five days.  For complex cases, they can last longer. 

 

The judge decides what time the case will begin each day, when breaks will be taken, and when the court will adjourn – or end – each day.  This means, the judge has discretion to allow the case to continue until it reaches a good stopping point into late in the evening.

What is preponderance of the evidence?

 

In a civil case,  an injured party – or plaintiff –has the burden of proving his/her case by what is known “preponderance of the evidence.”  This means “the greater weight of evidence upon the issues involved.” 

 

Commonly, this is illustrated by attorneys by analogizing it to equally-balanced scales.  If the plaintiff tips the scales, even just slightly, this is described as preponderance of the evidence.

Do all jurors have to agree in a civil case?

 

In Georgia, a jury verdict for a civil case must be unanimous – meaning each juror must freely and voluntarily agree with the verdict.

How much does a civil trial cost?

 

The costs of trial can vary drastically depending on the case, facts, and issues, but you should expect that trial expenses to be atleast $5,000. 

 

Witness fees, including treating physicians and experts, are typically among the most expensive costs for trial.  Developing persuasive trial exhibits, as well as hotel and food costs are additional expenses.  Finally, hiring a trial technology technician to assist with the effective presentation of evidence is an optional expense.

How do juries determine damages?

 

There is no precise way a jury calculates damages in a personal injury trial. 

 

Typically, a jury will first consider proof of the quantifiable “hard costs” such medical expenses, lost wages, and similar items.  From there, the jury will consider the evidence and testimony in attempt quantify the pain and suffering and other items of general damages.  Once total damages are decided, these damages are apportioned – or divided – between the parties based on percentage of fault. 

 

By way of example, a jury could value your total injuries and damages at $100,000.  But, if the jury believes you are 40% responsible for causing your injuries, the defendants will only be responsible for paying $60,000 (or 60%) according to their apportioned fault.

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