If a settlement cannot be reached, the next step is a trial where both parties will argue their case in front of a judge and jury. The jury will decide whether the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff's injuries.
Trials have six phases which are as follows:
Jury selection - People are randomly selected from lists of registered voters and people with driver's licenses and are then vetted to see if they qualify to serve. Then, the judge and both parties' lawyers further question those that qualify during a process known as "voir dire." This process is used to eliminate potential jurors that may have some bias about the people or issues involved in the case. Furthermore, those who know anyone involved in the case or have any prior information about the case are dismissed from the jury pool. Lawyers on both sides can eliminate a specific number of potential jurors without giving any reason.
Presenting opening statements - When the trial commences, both parties can present opening statements that are not evidence but an overview of the facts that are to be presented. The defendant's attorney can choose to withhold their opening statement until later in the trial.
Witness testimony and cross-examination - When the plaintiff's attorney calls witnesses, this is known as the direct examination. They question the witness about what they saw or know about the case. Then the defendant's attorney can cross-examine the witness. Both the plaintiff's attorney and the opposing attorney can object to the line of questioning and any evidence that is produced they deem improper during this process.
Closing arguments - Both parties use closing arguments to reiterate why their side should win the case. It's the final opportunity to shore up any doubts the jury may have on any issues pertaining to the case.
Jury instruction - The judge will give the jury instructions on how to deliberate and the substance of the law on which to base their decisions. Attorneys can present proposed instructions for the jury to favor their client. Still, the judge has the final rule on what the jury instruction will contain.
Jury deliberation and Verdict - In civil cases, the jury's decision does not have to be unanimous as in a criminal trial. If the verdict is unanimous, the jury foreperson will sign the verdict. If it's not unanimous, the judge will ask the jurors that do agree to the verdict to sign their names to the verdict.