Gavel and mallet during a trial.

What to Expect During a Personal Injury Trial

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

A personal injury trial is a legal proceeding in which a plaintiff seeks compensation for injuries sustained in an accident or incident caused by the negligence or wrongful actions of another person or entity. Personal injury cases can arise from a variety of accidents, including car accidents, slips and falls, medical malpractice, and product liability.

If you have been involved in a personal injury case, you may be wondering what to expect during the trial. Personal injury trials can be complex and intimidating, but having an understanding of the process can help you feel more prepared. Here’s what you can expect during a personal injury trial:

Jury Selection

The first step in a personal injury trial is jury selection. During this process, potential jurors are questioned by both sides to determine if they have any biases or prejudices that could affect their ability to be impartial. Once the jury is selected, the trial can begin.

Jury selection is an important part of any personal injury trial. It is the process by which the attorneys for both sides choose the members of the jury who will hear the evidence and decide the outcome of the case. In New York, a personal injury trial jury typically consists of six jurors and one or two alternate jurors.

The purpose of jury selection is to ensure that the jury is fair and impartial and that the members of the jury can listen to the evidence and make a decision based on the law and the facts presented at trial. During jury selection, both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys will have the opportunity to question potential jurors and determine if they are suitable to serve on the jury.

Opening Statements

The next step in the trial is the opening statements. This is when each side presents their case and lays out what they plan to prove during the trial. The plaintiff’s attorney will present their argument first, followed by the defense attorney.

Opening statements are an important opportunity for the attorneys to present their case to the jury and set the stage for the rest of the trial. While opening statements are not evidence and cannot be used to prove the case, they can have a significant impact on the jury’s perception of the case and the parties involved. Therefore, it is essential for the attorneys to carefully prepare and deliver a compelling opening statement that highlights their case’s strengths and weaknesses.

Presentation of Evidence

After opening statements, both sides will begin presenting evidence to support their case. This may include testimony from witnesses, medical records, and other documents. The plaintiff’s attorney will present their case first, followed by the defense attorney. Each side will have the opportunity to cross-examine the other side’s witnesses.

The types of evidence presented in a personal injury trial can vary widely depending on the specific case, but generally include witness testimony, medical reports, photographs, videos, and any other documentation that supports the plaintiff’s claims. The evidence is typically presented in a sequential manner, with each witness or piece of evidence building on the previous one to create a comprehensive picture of the case.

The presentation of evidence is governed by strict rules of evidence, which are designed to ensure that the evidence presented is reliable and relevant to the case. For example, hearsay evidence, which is testimony based on something the witness heard from someone else, is generally not admissible unless it falls within a specific exception to the rule.

Closing Arguments

Closing arguments are a critical part of a personal injury trial, and they offer the attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant an opportunity to summarize the evidence presented at trial and persuade the jury to rule in their favor.

During closing arguments, each attorney will have a chance to speak directly to the jury and provide a summary of the evidence presented during the trial. They will also have an opportunity to make their final arguments and explain why the jury should rule in favor of their client.

Closing arguments can also be used to appeal to the emotions of the jury and provide a compelling narrative that makes a strong case for why their client should win. The attorneys may use powerful language, vivid descriptions, and dramatic pauses to make their arguments more memorable and persuasive.

Once both attorneys have completed their closing arguments, the judge will provide the jury with instructions on how to deliberate and reach a verdict. The jury will then begin their deliberations, which may take several hours or even several days, before reaching a final decision.

Jury Deliberation

During jury deliberation, the jurors will review all the evidence presented at trial, including witness testimony, medical reports, and any other evidence submitted by the attorneys. They will also discuss the arguments made by the attorneys during closing statements and may ask for clarification from the judge on any legal points or instructions they are unsure of.

It is important to note that the deliberation process is confidential, and jurors are not allowed to discuss the case with anyone outside of the jury room. They must also keep an open mind and base their decision solely on the evidence presented at trial and the instructions given by the judge.

Once the jury has reached a verdict, they will notify the court, and the judge will call the attorneys and the parties involved in the case back into the courtroom to read the verdict. The verdict will typically be read aloud by the judge, and the jurors will be polled to confirm that they agree with the decision.


A verdict in a personal injury trial is the decision made by the jury regarding the outcome of the case. It is the jury’s determination of who is at fault, the extent of damages, and the amount of compensation that the injured party should receive.

After the trial has concluded and the jury has heard all of the evidence and testimony, they will be instructed by the judge to deliberate and reach a verdict. The jurors will consider the evidence presented at trial, including witness testimony, medical reports, and other evidence, in order to determine who is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and to what extent.

It’s important to note that a verdict in a personal injury trial is not always the final outcome of the case. Either party may appeal the verdict if they believe that there was an error in the trial or that the verdict was unjust. However, appeals are usually difficult to win, and the decision of the trial court is given great deference by the appellate court.

Why is a Personal Injury Trial Important?

A personal injury trial allows the injured party to seek justice and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. If someone’s negligence or wrongful conduct caused you harm, a trial provides an opportunity for you to make your case in a court of law and potentially receive compensation for your injuries.

Additionally, a personal injury trial can help establish legal precedents that can help prevent similar accidents or injuries from occurring in the future. By holding negligent parties accountable, personal injury trials serve as a deterrent and promote greater safety in society.

It’s important to note that not all personal injury cases go to trial. Many cases are settled out of court through negotiations between the injured party and the responsible party’s insurance company. However, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries, whether through a settlement or trial.

MMS Personal Injury Attorneys

A personal injury trial can be a complex and lengthy process. However, with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can feel more confident and prepared. If you have been involved in a personal injury case, contact Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. We will help you understand the process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Note: This page was written with the assistance of artificial intelligence software, but was reviewed for accuracy and approved by attorney Steven Miller, Esq.

About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.