Not all personal injury lawsuits require a trial. In fact, many cases don't ever see a courtroom if the two parties decide to settle.
If you accept a settlement, you agree to the payment that the other party offers. Perhaps you negotiated an amount, or were offered a fair amount to begin with. In either case, you don't have to go to court, because you both agreed on a settlement.
What happens if you decide to go to trial instead of accepting a settlement?
There are times when you may decide that going to trial is a better option than accepting a settlement. For instance, the other party may not have enough funds to offer you a direct settlement, requiring you to get a court order for a larger settlement. Another possibility is that you keep getting settlement offers that are simply too low for your expenses and losses. In both cases, you'll go to trial instead of accepting the settlement.
When you go to trial, the judge, and potentially a jury, hears both sides of the case and examines the evidence to decide if you should be awarded damages. Your attorney and the other party's attorney will argue their cases. It's your goal to obtain a judgment against the defendant, the party responsible for your injuries.
What are the steps of a trial?
Many of the steps involved in a trial won't directly involve you. For instance, choosing a jury and waiting for the jury to come up with a verdict do not involve you in any way. However, your attorney will be cautious about who is let onto the panel of jurors, because it's best to avoid bias such as racism, sexism or having friends of the defendant on the jury.
During the trial, you may or may not be present depending on your injuries and the need for you to be there. Your attorney will handle opening statements and cross-examinations of witnesses. You can have your own witnesses speak on your behalf. Your attorney will then give closing arguments in the hope of swaying the jury to your aid.
If you are badly hurt but can attend court, it can significantly impact the jury and judge. Seeing your injuries firsthand will always leave a greater statement than seeing them in photos or videos.