Taking a Texas Wrongful Death Case to Trial
This is the final post in our series on the handling of Texas wrongful death cases. Our last article discussed punitive damages and the importance of understanding when they may be appropriate. In this article we will focus on another important topic—what to expect at trial. We cannot stress enough the importance of retaining an attorney experienced and capable of taking your case to trial.
Trial by jury allows a case to be decided by a group of people selected at random from a fair cross section of the community. In a district court case there are 12 jurors. A verdict must be agreed on by at least 10 of the jurors. Because a plaintiff carries the burden of proof, the plaintiff brings his or her case first. The defense then puts forward its case and the plaintiff will have an opportunity to present rebuttal evidence. Wrongful death cases can involve a great deal of expert testimony. This testimony will include arguments regarding the cause of death, accident reconstruction, the earning power of the deceased, and may involve testimony regarding whether punitive damages are appropriate. At the close of the evidence, the lawyers for each side make a closing argument. The jury will then deliberate and issue a verdict. Should they find in favor of the plaintiff then they will also award damages.
It is crucial that you retain a personal injury lawyer with extensive experience in wrongful death and serious injury cases. There are many evidentiary and pretrial matters that involve complex issues of law and determine whether or not a jury will hear certain evidence. By retaining counsel who is experienced in this area of law you help to ensure that your case is adequately handled at trial and that your attorney knows how to understand issues which may arise.
When selecting a wrongful death attorney it is important that you select a firm which handles such cases and in which the lawyers have substantial experience. You should employ attorneys who are board certified and who have a full-time investigator on staff. Finally, you should determine whether the firm is large enough to advance court costs and whether the office can devote multiple attorneys to your case. This is true whether the tragedy occurred in counties including Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, and Wise as well as Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Arlington, Keller, Grand Prairie, and Dallas.