This is the next post in our series on the handling of Fort Worth, Texas wrongful death cases. Our last article discussed wrongful death cases which involve multiple defendants. If you are bringing an action against a commercial entity then it is important that you retain an attorney with significant financial resources. Doing so will help to ensure that your case is handled correctly. In this article we will discuss the possibility of having to attend a bifurcated trial, which sometimes occurs in these types of matters. If you have lost a loved one, due to the negligence of another, then it is important that you call a personal injury lawyer immediately.
It is not uncommon for the defendants to request a bifurcated trial in a wrongful death case. A “bifurcated” trial will occur in two phases instead of one. Typically, the jurors will be presented with evidence related to damages at the same time as they hear evidence related to liability. The jurors will then deliberate and issue a verdict in regards to both fault and compensation. In a bifurcated trial, however, the jury will spend the first “phase” of the case only hearing evidence related to liability. The jurors will then be asked to decide whether the defendants are liable for the tragedy. If the jury finds that the defendants were liable for the incident then a second phase of the trial will be held. This second phase will involve the presentation of evidence in regards to damages. The jury will then deliberate and determine the extent to which the Plaintiffs should be compensated.
It is common for defense attorneys to request bifurcated trials in wrongful death actions. They do so out of a belief that jurors are less likely to rule in favor of the Plaintiff if they do not hear evidence related to damages. There are times, however, when medical information may be relevant to the establishment of liability. A bifurcated trial setting creates the risk that the jury will not hear vital evidence. This is why, as a general matter, Plaintiffs typically do not wish to attend a bifurcated trial.
Again, it is common for defense counsel to request a bifurcated trial setting. It is important that you retain a wrongful death attorney who is experienced in opposing such requests. When selecting counsel, we suggest that you retain a firm which employs multiple lawyers in addition to its own investigator. We also suggest that you retain a firm in which counsel are Board Certified in Personal Injury Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.