Personal injury trials in Suffolk County, NY are held in two separate phases. The first phase, the liability phase, deals with the issue of who is at fault. Once this phase is completed, if the defendant is found to be at fault for any percentage of the accident during the first phase, the trial moves on to phase two, the damages phase. While having two phases of a trial may feel lengthy, they are both incredibly important. Read below to learn more about phase two, the Damages Phase, and discover how personal injury trials in Suffolk County are finalized.
What is the goal of the second phase?
While the first phase of the trial deals solely with the facts of how an accident occurred and the fault of the parties, this phase covers what physically happened to the plaintiff as a result of the accident. Damages can include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment/quality of life, loss of income, and medical expenses. It is through this phase that both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s attorneys take a deep dive into all the doctor visits, medical tests, and overall effect of the injuries on the plaintiff’s life.
A deeper look at the damages
Many people would argue that it’s difficult to accurately determine the value of damages, which is why it’s important that every factor is assessed. An accident, especially a traumatic one, can leave behind much turmoil both in the short term and the long term. The pain and suffering endured can include a loss of enjoyment of life and a loss of quality of life due to the accident. The plaintiff’s attorney will take a deep look at how the plaintiff’s life looks different now than it did before and will present this in court. Once this is explained to the jury, their job is to decide the value of that pain and suffering.
Who might speak during the damages phase?
There are a few key people that may be asked to speak during this phase of the trial. Doctors are brought in to accurately and expertly describe the extent of any injuries. Vocational experts may be brought in to explain if the plaintiff can’t do the job they used to do as a result of the injury. Economists could be brought in to project what the future value of any lost wages are as well as the future value of any treatments needed due to related injuries. Finally, a life care planner who has reviewed all medical records and examined the plaintiff may come to court to explain to the jury what the plaintiff will likely need in the future to get through their injuries.
Closing and deliberation
Once the jury has heard from both attorneys and all key witnesses, it is time for them to deliberate. They are given a verdict sheet which has six different categories of damages. These include:
1. Past pain and suffering
2. Future pain and suffering
3. Past loss of wages
4. Future loss of wages
5. Past medical expenses
6. Future medical expenses
The jury is tasked with filling in amounts for each of these six categories to come up with a total. They then take that total and offset it by any percentage of liability the plaintiff was found to be at during the first phase of the trial (the liability phase). For example, if the plaintiff was found to be 20% at fault, the total amount that the jury came up with in the verdict would then be reduced by 20%. The jury then presents the total number to the court and the case is complete.
The North Shore Injury Lawyer
Attorney Mark T. Freeley, also known as The North Shore Injury Lawyer, is one of the most trusted personal injury attorneys in Suffolk County. He works tirelessly for his clients to make sure they get the results they truly deserve. If you’ve been the victim of an accident in Suffolk County and are in need of a personal injury attorney who has your back, give Mark a call at 631-495-9435!