First of all, if you've gone to trial or are about to go to trial - congratulations! That's a huge step for your case and it took a long time to get here. So much of your energy and effort has been focused on the steps it took just to get here. Now that you’re here, you may be asking yourself what comes after the jury reaches its verdict. There’s so much build-up for your day in court, that what will happen afterward is rarely talked about.
The path to get to trial is long, can seem pointless at times, and has a log of hurdles. It’s not an easy decision to file suit and we discuss some factors to consider in a prior post you can check out here. If you’ve filed a lawsuit, you should expect to spend at least 2 years completing discovery, depositions, and mediation before going to trial.
Keep in mind that your case may settle at any point between filing a lawsuit and the final jury verdict. In fact, it’s possible to settle your case the morning of trial or even during it so long as closing arguments have not been delivered. In fact, one of our attorneys settled a case during jury selection right before opening statements! However, your case may also go through the entire trial and only reach its conclusion after the jury has deliberated.
You’ll likely be relieved when your trial is over and before the jury comes back with a verdict. Sometimes it’s hard to tell just how heavy your case has been weighing on you until it’s done. While most of the journey is behind you, it's important to realize that your case doesn’t automatically close just because the trial is over.
In the final moments of your trial, the judge will read instructions to the awaiting jury. This packet will take several minutes to read through. Stay present while the instructions are being read! Jurors will often scan the room while the judge reads the instructions and you don’t want to be caught looking disinterested. After all, you’re the reason why everyone is there!
After the instructions are read, both attorneys will deliver their closing arguments to the jury. More often than not, your attorney will reserve some of their time so they can give a short statement in response to the defense attorney’s closing argument and highlight your strongest arguments. Afterward, the jury will be excused and shown to the deliberation room. They may deliberate for a few minutes or a few hours. There is no time limit to deliberations. It’s even possible that you’ll be sent home for the night to return the next morning for the jury to continue their deliberation. Regardless of how long it takes, it will feel like forever. Eventually, they’ll come back, and the judge will read the verdict into the record. Congratulations! Your trial is over at this point.
Even though it might seem like you should be handed the money instantly, the jury deliberation is not the end of your case. Rest assured - the most difficult part is over!
If the jury awarded you money, your attorney will draft the final judgment in the days or weeks following the trial. They should be able to tell you when they expect that it will be finished. This judgment must be agreed upon by the defendant's attorney and then signed by the judge. If there are any disagreements about the final judgment, your attorney will need to set a hearing to discuss the matters in front of the judge. The hearing will not happen immediately, as it will have to be scheduled around everyone’s availability. You don’t need to attend the hearing through. Again, your attorney should communicate about the timelines as things change.
During this time, your attorney will give you some options regarding the verdict funds. Other than attorney fees and case costs, you will have to pay any liens that have attached to the case - health insurance liens, hospital liens, or letters of protection as discusses in our prior blog. Your attorney should be able to get these amounts reduced, but every case is different and there is not a standard across the board, so be sure to ask how much is owed and what reduction your attorney is able to negotiate. Some reductions can be negotiated in a matter of days, but others can take anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks to approve. Keep in mind, that if the verdict is smaller than anticipated and your attorney needs to get significant reductions from all of your providers, it will likely take longer to get them. When there is less money to go around, the fight is much, much harder.
After the judgment is approved by both attorneys and the judge, the insurance company will send payment to your attorney. The check typically arrives 7 – 10 business days after it is mailed. In the meantime, you will receive an itemized report from your attorney outlining the verdict amount, their attorney fees, their itemized costs, the medical bills they have to pay, or are instructed to pay, and your takeaway. Once you receive the money, your case is officially closed!
If you are unsatisfied with the verdict. Discuss your options with your attorney right away! There may be grounds for an appeal or post-trial relief. Keep in mind, that most personal injury attorneys do not handle appeals automatically. Attorneys often maintain the right to take on an appeal or withdrawal from the case depending on the case. It’s important to talk to your attorney right away because there are deadlines that need to be met if you decide to move forward.
As you can see, there is a lot that happens after reaching a verdict. It may be weeks to months following your trial before you receive your verdict funds. Be sure to stay in contact with your attorney every few weeks but know that they are working to resolve your case as quickly and efficiently as possible As always if you have questions – simply ask!