If you’ve suffered a personal injury to the point where you’ve decided to bring a legal case in the hopes of recouping damages, then one of the most important parts of the process is the personal injury hearing. At the hearing, you (or your attorney) will present your case and argue why you are justified in seeking damages. Whether you live around the world or here in Portland, personal injury hearings are a critical part of the process, and you should know how to best prepare for them.
What Is a Personal Injury Hearing?
Typically, the term “personal injury hearing” specifically refers to the session where a personal injury case is argued before the judge, who will then determine fault and damages. However, not all personal injury cases actually make it to trial—in fact, the vast majority do not. Only about 4% to 5% of personal injury cases ever see a day in court, as the overwhelming majority are settled out of court.
Colloquially, however, this phrase may be used to refer to other matters related to personal injury proceedings. Two of the most common alternatives that may be called “personal injury hearings” (typically by non-attorneys or other legal professionals) will be personal injury depositions and personal injury mediations.
What’s the Difference Between Personal Injury Hearings, Depositions, and Mediations?
The three are very different in terms of outcome but also share broad similarities. In all of these, you will be telling your Portland personal injury lawyer—or your lawyer wherever else you live in the world—about why you think you deserve to be compensated for the injuries you’ve suffered. However, the differences between them are notable.
What Is a Personal Injury Deposition?
A deposition can be thought of as a “fact-finding” session. In a deposition, an attorney attempts to piece together exactly what happened and the facts of the matter as they related to the personal injury case.
If you are the person who experienced the personal injury, you may be called by your attorney to give an official deposition as to the facts of the matter. However, even if you are not the victim (or the plaintiff), you may be called in to testify. This can be true even if you are a witness to the events that happened.
You can think of a personal injury deposition as a “trial before a trial.” In other words, even though the attorneys are not pleading a case before a judge, much of the same information will be shared—this is the opportunity for the attorneys to gather the information that they will later use to plead their cases in the trial proper.
Most depositions are not held in a courtroom. Rather, they will usually be held at law offices or in other designated spaces owned by the attorneys involved in the case. However, a deposition is a legal proceeding, and as such, you are considered under oath and must be careful to tell the truth so you don’t risk perjury.
What Is a Personal Injury Mediation?
As previously mentioned, most personal injury cases in Portland and around the country are settled before trial. A personal injury mediation session may be one of the ways two parties come to an agreement, or it may be something mandated by the judge after the hearing proper. Either way, a personal injury mediation is a session in which the plaintiff and defendant (and their legal teams) come together to agree on an appropriate settlement.
Unlike the deposition, which is usually just for fact-finding, a personal injury mediation session is usually legally binding and will attempt to resolve the case for good.
What Is a Personal Injury Hearing?
A personal injury hearing, as previously mentioned, involves the parties in question coming forward to argue their cases in front of a judge. At the conclusion of the personal injury hearing, the judge will decide in favor of the defendant or plaintiff and award monetary damages—or alternatively, they may decide that the case should go to mediation, in which case you should refer to the above section.
Either way, it’s important that you know how to behave in these varying scenarios. So whether you’re around the country or here in Portland, personal injury hearing guidelines include the following:
- Tell the truth. Not only is this a good maxim to live by, but in a deposition or hearing, you are under oath and therefore are legally obligated to be truthful. If it can be proven that you were lying, not only could the result be appealed, but you could face charges of perjury.
- Be prepared. No attorney—and no judge—enjoys a defendant who doesn’t know what they’re talking about or who has to waste time trying to remember a facet of the event in question. You’re human, and of course, there’s leeway, but you should be sure to prepare as much as possible in terms of reviewing documents and your memory of the events in question.
- Be on time. The annals of legal history are full of anecdotes of plaintiffs or defendants who forgot their court dates and as such forfeited their cases (and wasted the court’s time). Don’t be one of them. Ensure you know exactly where and when your court date is scheduled and don’t miss it.
- Dress appropriately. You don’t need to show up to the court in full formal dress, but wearing clothing with vulgar images or slang on it might give a poor impression to the judge. Dress nicely to ensure you are perceived as credible.
- Don’t take things personally. Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant—or a witness—people will be challenging your version of the events that transpired. The opposing counsel is legally obligated to do so, in fact. So when the opposing counsel puts forth a sequence of events that are totally at odds with how you describe it, don’t get angry. Remaining calm is the best thing you can do in a court hearing, especially if you’re on the stand.
If you have questions about personal injury hearings in Portland, Oregon, or anywhere else, don’t worry—contact an expert. At Warren Allen, we’re here for a consultation today.